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plastic pollution

Tobacco-Free focuses on reducing tobacco product waste for plastic free July

By Press Release

Press Release:

Why is a group with Tobacco-Free in its name so passionate and determined to promote plastic-free living for the month of July? Because tobacco product waste, especially the tiny but troublesome discarded cigarette butts, is a form of plastic waste?

“According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are littered every year, making them the most littered item on the planet,” says Brittany Bozzer, Reality Check Youth Coordinator for Tobacco-Free Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties (TF-GOW). “That’s a problem because cigarette butt filters are made of a nonbiodegradable plastic called cellulose acetate.”

When tossed into the environment, cigarette butts dump not only plastic, but also nicotine, arsenic, formaldehyde, lead and cadmium that leaches into our soil, waterway systems and surrounding environment, affecting all kinds of living things from plants and flowers to wildlife and marine life.

Beyond cigarette butts

Bozzer notes that cigarette butts are just one form of tobacco product waste that is plastic litter. Electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes or vapes, are also toxic to the environment. Add plastic cigar tips, tobacco product wrappers and smokeless tobacco product containers and the local, state and global pollution problem continues.

What can you do in your community

  1. Host a cigarette butt cleanup? Cleanups can help build awareness about the extent of the tobacco product pollution and why it’s important to stop. Be sure to wear gloves and pick up discarded vapes, cigar tips and plastic packaging as well.
  2. Help people quit. Eliminating tobacco product waste for good also means helping smokers and vapers quit.

The New York State Smokers' Quitline is a confidential service for all New York State residents who wish to overcome dependence on commercial tobacco products, including e-cigarettes. 

Free offerings include individualized coaching and assistance with quit-planning from highly trained tobacco treatment specialists, text and online chat support and free shipping of stop-smoking medications such as nicotine patches, nicotine lozenges or nicotine gum for those 18 and older.

Residents of all ages may contact the Quitline for support and educational materials. In addition, the Quitline encourages teens and young adults (ages 13-24) to text “DROPTHEVAPE” to 88709 to join “This Is Quitting,” a free texting support program for help with quitting vaping. 

For more information, text QUITNOW to 333888 or call 1-866-NY-QUITS (1-866-697-8487) seven days a week, beginning at 9 a.m.

Senator Ranzenhofer reminds shoppers of statewide plastic grocery bag ban starting March 1

By Billie Owens

As a result of last year’s plastic bag ban, Wegmans announced that they would eliminate the use of plastic carry-out grocery bags on Monday (Jan. 27th.) The ban goes into effect statewide on March 1. Paper bags will still be available for a fee.

While reusable shopping bags are already widely used, many residents do not have or do not wish to purchase reusable bags for one reason or another. As such, my office has a limited supply of reusable bags available free of charge.

If you are interested in a free reusable bag please stop by my office at 8203 Main St., Suite 4, Williamsville, or contact my office by phone at (716) 631-8695 or (585) 454-0322 (Monday-Friday, 9-5) and we would be happy to get you a bag. Supplies are limited and bags will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Tops Markets to be part of 'Clean Up the World Weekend' Sept. 20-22

By Billie Owens

Tops Friendly Markets, a leading full-service grocery retailer in New York, Northern Pennsylvania, and Vermont, is proud to announce its registration for the 2019 Clean Up the World (CUTW) program.

Established in 1993, CUTW is one of the largest community-based environmental programs in the world, uniting community groups, schools, businesses, and local governments to carry out activities that address local environmental issues. The organization inspired billions of people across all continents to tread lightly, clean up, and conserve the planet in addition to combating waste and plastic pollution.

In order to fulfill its commitment to the program Tops is hosting a Clean Up the World Weekend, Sept. 20-22, at all 159 of its stores across three states, including its two stores in Genesee County -- Batavia and Le Roy.

Over the course of the three days, 10,000 reusable bags made of 10-percent recyclable materials will randomly be given away, encouraging shoppers to use recycled bags over plastic. This is especially pertinent in New York State where a plastic bag ban is currently in legislation and set to go into effect in March.

Additionally shoppers will learn more about specific earth friendly brands available at Tops including Full Circle, Mrs. Meyers, Method, Seventh Generation and more as they make their own personal choices to make a difference in their own carbon footprint.

Lastly, Tops associates will be participating in environmental clean ups across the communities in which it serves. From river and beach clean ups to beautifying trails and parks, Tops is encouraging its associates to make a difference.

“At Tops Friendly Markets, social responsibility and sustainability have always been at the core of our mission, upholding standards that ensure we reduce environmental waste and energy consumption while providing our customers with sustainably sourced, high-quality products,” said Kathy Sautter, public and media relations manager for Tops Friendly Markets.

“We continue to make great strides in reducing our environmental impact in every facet of our business. For example we are able to reduce the amount of inedible food going back into landfills by recycling over 346 tons of inedible food and over 156 tons of unusable organic products this year alone.”

Across the chain, Tops raises its efficiencies in other ways as well by implementing energy efficient lighting which drastically reduces energy consumption throughout their stores properties. The chain began upgrading interior lighting to LED lights/fixtures thru a program with Lime Energy Services in several of its stores as well as its corporate offices and mailroom. In 2019 these retro-fittings now save over 1,909,725 kWh annually.

As Tops launched into a year of remodels in 2019 LED lighting continues to be used to ensure additional savings. LED lighting was also used in fuel canopies in 2019 helping to save over 181,000 kWh annually in exterior lighting as well.

Tops also took a look at how it could reduce the amount of refrigerant containing ozone depleting gases and retrofitted multiple systems companywide resulting in 20,000 pounds less for an overall 10-percent reduction. Overall the company was able to reduce its leak rates on these harmful refrigerants by 20 percent keeping 5,600 pounds out of the atmosphere.

Tops is also on track to exceed last year’s totals when it comes to recycling. So far this year alone the company has recycled more than 9,500 tons of cardboard and over 395 tons of plastic bags and film.

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