Universiteit Leiden

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Leiden University takes another step in becoming smoke-free with 'Peukenzee' initiative

In recent months, the university has been running the 'Smoke-free university' campaign because of the large number of cigarette waste on and around the faculties. As part of this campaign, gatherings were held in June, September and October to draw extra attention to this waste problem.

During these three gatherings, cigarette waste collectors of the Peukenzee initiative picked up cigarette waste from the university grounds. Through this action, the university wanted to show how much effort it takes to keep its grounds free of cigarette waste every day. Peukenzee aims to reduce cigarette pollution and create awareness. Three questions to Peukenzee.

What did you notice during the waste picking during the action days?

"We visited 7 different university locations in Leiden for the cigarette waste picking and collecting, each location at the same time between 11:00 and 13:00. This time was chosen in consultation with Leiden University, because this is the time when most students have a break and take the opportunity to smoke outside. Something we noticed while collecting is that the amount of waste and smokers varied greatly by location."

"It was noticeable that there was a lot of cigarette waste on the ground at the Wijnhaven, Leiden University Library and Van Steenis locations. These locations are characterized by their business, chic appearance and environment. This look was unfortunately hampered by the large amount of waste lying around; in no time we picked up one and a half kilos. We were also present at the Gorlaeus location, a university site surrounded by a large amount of greenery and nature. It seemed that people, whether consciously or not, adapted to this environment because here we found considerably fewer cigarette waste; the people who smoked threw their waste in the bins. A striking and interesting contrast to the other locations."

What are you going to do with the waste that the university donated to Peukenzee?

"Peukenzee invests in a project that is committed to the recycling of cigarette waste. We are also researching recycling options in our so-called circular chain project, which is why we have developed a spectacle frame made from 100% recycled cigarette filters. We are also researching how to reproduce cigarette filters into a binder that can be used for cement and waste. Prior to recycling and reproducing cigarette filters, the filters are cleaned and selected for usability. These clean parts are then sent to a laboratory where research is being done into how the microplastics from the cigarette filters can be transformed into new material."

What would you like to say to smokers or the university based on your findings?

What we want to convey to everyone is that the university grounds will really be a nicer place for everyone if waste no longer ends up on the ground. If planters, paving stones and sliding doors are no longer covered by plastic filters, this will benefit the university's character. Furthermore, throwing your waste on the ground is extremely harmful to the environment and nature. The amount of cigarette waste we collected from Leiden University is without a doubt the most of all our cooperation partners. That's why it's so wonderful that we can support each other to realize clean university grounds.'

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