KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful has teamed up with Tennessee State Parks to prevent fire hazards and clean up cigarette litter.

KTNRB is giving 109 cigarette receptacles to state parks. Each receptacle features information about cigarette litter in waterways. Once collected, the cigarette butts will be shipped to TerraCycle. The company will cover shipping costs and recycle the plastic microfibers found in cigarette filters into new plastic items, such as outdoor furniture.

In February 2019, a German scientist named Dr. Andreas Fath authored a study that found the Tennessee River to have the highest levels of microplastics in any river in the world studied to date.

“To have 35 Tennessee State Park facilities lead in such an elaborate river stewardship effort is truly going to make an impact for the waterways in Tennessee,” Kathleen Gibi, executive director for KTNRB, said. “Littered cigarettes are surprisingly prolific and harmful for our waterways, so the state parks’ commitment is a great step in protecting the Tennessee River and its tributaries for generations to come.”

When state park staff conducted a preliminary count at the sites of the new receptacles, they found 1,982 cigarette butts on the ground. They hope that the receptacles will allow those who smoke in the parks to properly dispose of their cigarettes.