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General Press Releases

Port of San Diego Installs Receptacles for Cigarette Butt Recycling

As an environmental champion of San Diego Bay and its surrounding tidelands, the Port of San Diego has embarked on a unique project to recycle a type of waste that is often left behind as litter – cigarette butts.

The Port is working with TerraCycle, an innovative recycling company that has become a global leader in recycling items such as used cigarette butts, coffee capsules and ocean plastic. This project will not only reduce the amount of discarded cigarette butts on Port tidelands, but it will help repurpose the waste into useful products.

The Port recently installed 31 cigarette butt receptacles purchased from TerraCycle around San Diego Bay, in Port parks and in other Port areas with heavy pedestrian traffic. The receptacles provide a convenient option for smokers to dispose of their used cigarettes.

Staff from the Port’s General Services Department will empty the receptacles and ship the used cigarette butts to TerraCycle. TerraCycle will then process the used butts, separating the tobacco from the paper. Those elements will be composted and the cigarette’s filter will be recycled into plastic pellets. The pellets can then be used by manufacturers to make several different types of products such as plastic lumber and shipping pallets.

“The Port of San Diego is pleased to partner with TerraCycle in this unique endeavor to reduce the amount of cigarette butt litter around the waterfront,” said Rafael Castellanos, Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. “Reducing litter is a critical step in protecting San Diego Bay, our precious natural resource. An added bonus is that this program provides an alternative to adding waste to our county’s landfill.”

Locations of the cigarette butt receptacles include the busy North Embarcadero area where the Port’s cruise ship terminals, the San Diego Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum are located. Other installation sites are Shelter Island Park; Spanish Landing Park; Harbor Island Park; Seaport Village; Pepper Park in National City; Chula Vista’s Bayside, Bayfront and Marina View Parks; Embarcadero Marina Parks North and South; Ruocco Park; Tuna Harbor, the commercial fishing area near the Fish Market Restaurant; and America’s Cup Harbor. Additionally, the Port installed the receptacles at its Administration Building and General Services/Procurement offices.

About THE Port of San Diego

The Port of San Diego serves the people of California as a specially created district, balancing multiple uses on 34 miles along San Diego Bay spanning five cities. Collecting no tax dollars, the Port manages a diverse portfolio to generate revenues that support vital public services and amenities.

The Port champions Maritime, Waterfront Development, Public Safety, Experiences and Environment, all focused on enriching the relationship people and businesses have with our dynamic waterfront. From cargo and cruise terminals to hotels and restaurants, from marinas to museums, from 22 public parks to countless events, the Port contributes to the region’s prosperity and remarkable way of life on a daily basis.


Port of San Diego Environment champions the safekeeping and environmental care of our diverse ecosystems. Year after year, environmental goals are set and measured to evolve environmental initiatives – ensuring San Diego Bay remains a vibrant resource and contributes to a remarkable way of life for visitors and residents for generations to come.