When the young start-up TchaoMégot was launched, we were among the first to talk about their great concept! Recycle cigarette butts by turning them into material for our down jackets! Since their hands-on campaign, the young shoot has come a long way and a nice way! In fact, they just developed an ecological recycling system that turns cigarette butts into building insulation!
According to the environment ministry, 25,000 tons of cigarette butts are thrown in France every year … TchaoMégot therefore needs 25,000 tons of potential raw material to produce insulation worthy of the name. And besides the visual pollution that cigarette butts cause, there is, of course, catastrophic pollution:
Cigarette filters contain plastic (cellulose acetate) and can take up to ten years to break down. They also contain many chemical substances (hydrocyanic acid, naphthalene, nicotine, ammonia, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, lead) that are extremely toxic for the human organism, but also for ecosystems. A cigarette butt thrown on the ground and washed away has every chance of ending its course in the sea or ocean.
The TchaoMégot project
Julien Paque, founder of Tchaomégot, therefore sees this environmentally harmful material as the raw material for this new type of insulator. To achieve this isolation, he develops a solvent-free or water-free system that recycles waste classified as hazardous. Once the process is complete, 99% of the pistons become reusable fibers. Fiber that can insulate roofs or attics! To protect his invention, TchaoMégot applies for 5 patents, 3 of them worldwide. Today the company, based in Beauvais (60), employs 6 people and would like to expand its construction activities.
A material that proves its effectiveness
From a structural point of view, we know how much the material shortage has been felt since the beginning of the health crisis! Julien Paque explains in an interview with the newspaper Le Moniteur “When the toxicity of the filters has been eliminated, we have odorless cellulose acetate ready for use, especially as an insulating material.”
Recycling an extremely polluting product to save energy is awesome! Image credit: TachoMegot
The material designed in this way is already used in the insulation of certain constructions and has a similar performance to conventional materials. “According to our first results, our material achieves an output of 0.04 W / mK at a thickness of 22 cm”
Converting cigarette butts into insulating fibers for homes. Image credit: TachoMegot
The company director states that the material is awaiting an NF label and that the procedures represent a significant cost to the company. Currently only 6 tons of cigarette butts can be processed per year … The future goal is to convert 100 tons! To obtain 1 m3 of insulation, around 650,000 cigarette butts or 1000 liters are required. And to achieve this result, the collection system needs to be improved.
Collect and recycle TchaoMegot hotspots!
Today the start-up has 230 collection partners, most of whom are based in northern France. The company wants to open branches in each region to collect cigarette butts from all over France. They are also trying to develop down jackets for the 2024 PARIS Olympics, which is fast approaching. “Our approach: control the entire product collection, recycling and sales chain,” explains Julien Paque.
While waiting for European law to lift cigarette butts and maybe make polluters pay! TchaoMégot will continue to expand its activities in the construction industry without being able to meet the strong demand in this area! Even if they recycle all of the cigarette butts in France, they might not be able to meet all the requirements! Isolation with cigarette butts is still in its infancy. But it’s a real problem for the construction sector, but also for the environment.