TYLER - It’s actually quite difficult to get a cigarette butt out of a sidewalk crevice once it falls in.
That’s a battle downtown businesses have been fighting for years, but new initiatives may help.
Keep Tyler Beautiful started an initiative this year to help curb the litter downtown.
“We did a cigarette litter scan, where we literally walked around town and counted cigarette butts,” said Angela Cordova, Keep Tyler Beautiful community coordinator. “All of them are in flower pots and where the rose bushes are - those are all transition points where people have to put out their cigarettes.”
The organization was awarded a $5,000 grant from Keep America Beautiful to implement its Cigarette Litter Prevention Program in April.
The funds were used to purchase 35 cigarette receptacles.Five of them are tall, stand-up receptacles that have been coated in a colorful wrap. Those can be found outside of Rick’s on the Square and Sports Zone on Erwin Street, as well as at Harvey Convention Center, the Tyler Rose Garden and at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.
The other 20 receptacles are small, metal boxes that are attached to light poles. They resemble a small birdhouse.
There are four of those downtown. Two are placed on opposing sides on the T.B. Butler Fountain Plaza.
There’s another near the People’s Petroleum Building and one at the Tyler Chamber of Commerce, Ms. Cordova said.
The remainder of them were passed out to local businesses.
Ms. Cordova said she personally empties those out periodically, and the butts inside are sent off to the company TerraCycle, which turns them into a hard plastic material, Ms. Cordova said.
In addition to cleaning up cigarette butts, the agency is also working to curb general trash in the area.
Also in April, Keep Tyler Beautiful received a grant of over $8,000 from the East Texas Council of Governments to purchase two more Bigbelly trash cans.
That brings the total number of the specialized cans to five.
There are three on Erwin Street: near Sports Zone, Liberty Hall and the Gallery Main Street. There are two more on Broadway -- at the Fair Plaza Parking Garage and at the Austin Bank building.
The trash cans are specialized and compact the trash as it is put inside. There’s also a sensor that will tell the city when it’s full, making them easier to tend to.
Julie Goodgame, the city’s manager of communications, downtown arts and culture, said the improvements make the downtown area more attractive.
“Cigarette butts are one of the most commonly discarded pieces of waste, they aren’t biodegradable and they are an eyesore,” she said. “Through our partnership with Keep Tyler Beautiful, this initiative goes a long way to promote downtown as a place to live, work and play.”
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