Residents and businesses along Parsons Avenue will try to stamp out cigarette-butt litter over the next year.

Residents and businesses along Parsons Avenue will try to stamp out cigarette-butt litter over the next year.

The Parsons Avenue Merchants Association (PAMA) has received a $3,000 grant through Keep America Beautiful for a litter-prevention program in the neighborhood.

Volunteers will begin the effort in the next week or so in Southeast Lions Park, just south of Merion Village. A special kickoff event was planned for Sept. 26 but heavy rain caused officials to reschedule for next week.

“We at PAMA are very excited about this whole process,” said Jeff Knoll, executive director of the merchants association. “No. 1, cigarette-butt litter is one of the worst forms of litter there is. It is second only to wrappers and bags that get thrown out on the street all the time.”

As part of the program, Columbus-based InnovaGreen Systems will install 10 cigarette-litter containers — five on each side — along Parsons Avenue between Columbus Street and Seibert Avenue. Each container is made from 10,000 to 20,000 recycled cigarette butts.

Because cigarette butts are a form of plastic, InnovaGreeen uses its technology to turn the matter into everything from sunglasses to automotive parts, said Blake Burich, president and founder of the company.

“The material is modified in a number of ways that produces hard materials to soft materials,” said Burich, a research chemist. “InnovaGreen Systems takes discarded materials and turns (them) into valuable products.”

The program has been developed and field-tested over a five-year period, said Sherri Palmer, program manager for Keep Columbus Beautiful, an affiliate of the national organization, Keep America Beautiful. The effort has resulted in an average 55-percent reduction in cigarette-butt litter in the areas where it was tested, she said.

The local pilot program is just another effort to eradicate cigarette butts throughout the city.

Keep Columbus Beautiful and community partners, for example, began KickButtColumbus! in 2009. The spring event focuses on both community education about cigarette butts as litter and abatement of cigarette litter from highway exit and entry ramps across the city. The first year, 342 volunteers cleaned up 23 ramps and collected 62,700 butts, Palmer said.

The organization has led another initiative along Parsons, she said.

“Litter in general has been a key part of our Plant Pride on Parsons partnership efforts started in 2010 to clean and beautify the avenue,” Palmer said. “Having a local company involved in recycling cigarette butts, plus manufacturing a litter container from the recycled butts, completes the green circle. It could not get any better.”