RICHMOND — A subsidiary of the second-largest US cigarette maker, Reynolds American Inc., is funding a recycling program to reward do-gooders for cleaning up tobacco waste and then turn cigarette butts into pellets used to make shipping pallets, railroad ties, park benches, and ashtrays.
Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. is teaming up with TerraCycle Inc. for the program.
‘‘You don’t have to walk or drive very far to see that smokers often discard cigarette waste in ways that litter the environment,’’ said Santa Fe’s sales chief, Cressida Lozano.
Through the Cigarette Waste Brigade program, people over age 21 and organizations can send cigarette waste to TerraCycle with a prepaid shipping label. They will get credits that will be donated to Keep America Beautiful, a nonprofit organization. They will receive about $1 per pound of litter, which equals about 1,000 cigarette butts.
TerraCycle will then recycle the filters into pellets. The paper and tobacco will be composted.
TerraCycle chief executive and founder Tom Szaky said the program also provides a solution for filters that are properly disposed of but still end up in a landfill.
Cigarette waste accounted for 38 percent of all roadway litter, according to a 2009 Keep America Beautiful study.