Possible Recycling of Cigarette Butts as Fiber Modifier in Bitumen for Asphalt Concrete

Materials (Basel). 2020 Feb 6;13(3):734. doi: 10.3390/ma13030734.


Littering waste is among the top environmental issues in the world, and the management of the waste has turned into a challenge in almost every city. It has been reported that 75% of smokers dispose of their cigarette butts (CBs) on the ground, even in public places. Researchers have discovered that CBs make up more than one-third of the total littered waste on the planet. Cigarette butts predominantly consist of a cellulose acetate fiber (plastic)-based filter wrapped in paper. Waste CBs contain burnt tobacco and tar, along with many other toxic chemicals. They take years to biodegrade depending on the environmental conditions, and toxic chemicals leach out and contaminate the environment. As part of an ongoing project, this paper presents a novel and sustainable technique to recycle cigarette butts in bitumen for the construction of flexible pavements. In this research, CBs have been pre-processed and mixed with bitumen classes C320, C170, and PMB A10E as a fiber modifier. Comprehensive laboratory investigations, including a penetration test, softening point test, and viscosity test, have been performed along with a binder drain off test to evaluate the performance of the modified samples. During this investigation, samples were prepared with 0.3% cellulose fiber, 0.2%, 0.3% 0.4%, and 0.5% CBs. The results of the CB-modified samples were compared with the sample with cellulose fiber and fresh bitumen (0% fiber). The results show that the physical and rheological properties of bitumen incorporating CBs improve significantly, and CBs could be used instead of virgin cellulose fiber as a fiber modifier.

Keywords: asphalt concrete; bitumen; cigarette butts; environmental sustainability; recycling; waste management.