American University of Beirut

Cigarette Butt Stand Up Paddle Board Launching Event


Starting in 2016 with President Fadlo R. Khuri naming of the Tobacco‐Free Task Force of AUB, led by Dr. Rima Nakkash, and with the full participation of students, faculty, staff, and administrators, plans started to make the campus completely tobacco-free as of August 31, 2018. 

In 2016, Recycle Lebanon produced a short film, 'Sunday Thoughts', directed by Nadia Asfour for the Film4Climate global video competition 2016 with the World Bank and Connect4Climate to raise awareness about waste, pollution and the cigarette butt surfboard. 
The film was chosen top 10 in MENA region and in top 80 of 864 global submissions, presented during COP22 in 2016 and as a special selection with Vulcan Productions April 2017.

In Spring 2017, Recycle Lebanon approached the AUB Neighborhood Initiative (AUB NI) to raise awareness about cigarettes and pollution through a design competition for the cigarette butt collection bins as innovative and sustainable solutions to address our concerns about littering on the sidewalks once the campus was smoke-free. 

The AUB Tobacco-Free Initiative launched a campus-wide communication campaign that began with banners hung across campus and at AUBMC, then posters outside the campus, then anti-littering campaign videos that went viral on social media with Shaden Esperanza and our AUB Choir and Beirut Vocal Point.

The cigarette receptacle bins were designed by AUB Alumnus architect Adrian Muller, supported by the Tobacco-Free AUB Initiative and the AUB Neighborhood Initiative. The bins were then produced, and 50 bins were installed in 25 locations around the AUB campus gates, then cigarette butt collection and storage started. The aim was to recycle the collected cigarette butts into stand up paddle boards that can be used for sea clean-ups around Lebanon.

The first stand up paddleboard was made from the collected cigarettes around AUB (80 kg – 240000 collected cig butts in 20 months). The board was shaped by Paul Abbas founder of Lebanon’s Surf Factory to be used by Recycle Lebanon for in sea clean-ups, in collaboration with the AUB NI and funded by the AUB Tobacco-Free Initiative.

Today we have installed 50 additional bins in 25 new locations around Ras Beirut, including Bliss, John Kennedy, Jeanne d’Arc, Makhoul and Sidani Streets and in front of Letitia Gallery in Hamra. We are proud to have our bins in BLOM Bank on Abdel Aziz and Verdun, represented BY Mr. Mohamad Khaled, head of Administration Division and Mrs. Diala Sobh, Sustainability Manager. This collaboration has resulted in BLOM Bank sponsoring the second cigarette butt SUP with the cigarettes collected at their premises (12kg – 36000 butts collected in 10 months). 

Our future collaborators from ABC Verdun, represented by Mr. Salman Abou Taam, senior mall supervisor also joined the launching event. ABC Verdun already started collecting cig butts thanks to Recycle Lebanon’s project to reduce single-use plastic litter. (57kg- 170000 cig. Butts collected in 3 months).

Event Program:

10:30 am address by Dr. Fadlo R. Khuri, President of AUB 
10:35 am Mr. Marcos Hado, representative of H.E. Mr. Fady Jreissati Minister of Environment
10:40 am Dr. Rima Nakkash, Chair of the AUB Tobacco-Free Initiative 
10:45 am Mrs. Mona El Hallak, Director of the AUB Neighborhood Initiative
10:50 am Joslin Kehdi, Founder of Recycle Lebanon and Eco Souk
11:00 am Tayyarit Waraq performance and launch of the SUP sea clean up.

Joining Joslin Kehdi  in the sea cleanup on SUPs were:

  • Dianne Ferjeini, winner of this year’s Lebanon water festival’s Stand up paddle race for women.
  • Ziad Yazbeck, winner of this year’s Lebanon water festival’s Stand up paddle race for men.
  • Jad Ghosn, winner of last year’s Lebanon water festival’s Stand up paddle race for men.
  • Marcos Hado, representative of and consultant to the Minister of Environment, Marine Biologist, President of the Lebanese Federation of Free-diving.
  • Mirna Farhat and her sons Wassim and Karim Farhat.
  • Noura Boulos Diab
  • Elias Soueidi

Special thanks to 

  • Captain Samir Yazbek from the Sea Rescue Unit, Civil Defense.
  • Surf Shack Lebanon founded in 2017 with a goal of introducing non-motorized water sports and building a community of all ages by Caroline Raphael who has a strong belief in outdoor sports that brings people and nature together.
  • Sporting Club and Mr. Marwan Abou Nassar, for supporting us with two SUP for the cleanup. 
  • Roland Eid from East Coast Organic, producer of local surf wax made of organic and natural beeswax. 

 Making of the cigarette stand up paddleboard by Paul Abbas

​The core of the stand-up paddleboard is made out of low-density styrofoam with a cigarette matt built from 12,000 collected cigarettes as an added layer to give it more impact resistance and uses less fiberglass as the cigarettes strengthen its rigidity. The rails of the board are covered with 2mm cork sheets, adding additional rigidity to the rails, especially that the board rails get the most damage from paddles and rocks when in the water. There are no cigarettes on the rails with the purpose to reduce the chances of leaking from rails if hit. The cigarette stand up paddleboard is tested and leak-proof, with optimal stability and suitable for 2 persons recreational or in sea clean up.


3.2m length, 0.8m inch wide, 0.1m thick, 12 kg, 12,000 plastic cigarette filters in two top and bottom protective layers.​


  • 12,000 plastic cigarette filters
  • Low-density styrofoam
  • 2 mm Cork sheet
  • Eco resin Sicomin, from France - 40%plant based.
  • Fiberglass​

Steps / How it is made:

  • Shape the foam plank to the desired dimensions.
  • Place the collected cig butts side by side to build the cigarette matt.
  • Vacuum Bag cig matt to the shaped foam and glue it so there are no air bubbles.
  • Cover the rails cork sheets.
  • Wrap the board with Eco resin to add rigidity and waterproof it.

500 cig. butts >>> 170 grams
3000 cig. butts >>> 1 Kilogram 
12000 cig. butts are used in each SUP

Existing initiatives around the world:

The Kreis Board

UK Edinburgh
Lucas Santos Keisboard in the UK made a pilot for a design course. He donated the board to Recycle Lebanon.

The Cigarette Surfboard

USA, Surfrider Competition 
Taylor in USA made a surfboard for surf rider competition, now he’s piloted 4 after trial and error to reduce leaking and increase quality. He auctioned the board which famous surfer Jack Johnson rode for 21000$ to fund his film on cigarettes and surfing. 

Joslin Kehdi first found Lucas Santos kreisboard on behance in 2016 in UK just after launching Recycle Lebanon and was in touch with him, then got Paul Abbas on board with Nadia Asfour and they made the film “Sunday Thoughts” which was MENA top 10 and aired at cop22 climate change meeting. During the same period, Taylor lane did a competition with surfrider and made the first cigarette surfboard, then Joslin got in touch with him and Lucas to learn from their trials and errors for the production of our SUP.


Lebanon is facing the effects of climate change and this reality is shared globally. Following the most recent waste crisis in 2015, it was essential to shed light on the issues facing our country, while linking with the broader global reality of plastic pollution and in particular the industrial production and tosser culture and the importance of a shift.

A new mindset to redesign products is mandatory and is primarily catalyzed by consumer choices. Thus the reality of a circular economy and regenerative design with biomimicry connecting people to nature. We did this by using the cigarette butt waste which is a personal connection to many primary and secondary smokers, especially that Lebanon has been ranked as 3rd in the world for most cigarette consumption. With our alarming air pollution and environmental deterioration, we are raising awareness by collecting butts and up-cycling them into a thin plastic layer on a surfboard which will be achieved thanks to local Lebanese shaper, Paul Abbas, making it more robust and sustainable to ride the wave of waste management, habit change, environmental awareness, and protection.

In Lebanon, we rank the 3rd in the world for the most cigarette consumption.
Monthly: 12.4 packs per person.
Annually: 3,023.15 cigarettes per capita annually in Lebanon.

Law 174 was approved by P.M. Najib Mikati’s Cabinet in 2012 with intent to limit cigarette consumption, at least in public places like restaurants.

Smoking-related health costs in Lebanon are estimated at around 146 million dollars (Sibai AM, et al. BMJ Open 2016;6:e009881. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009881)

In 2008, tobacco trade in Lebanon led to a total social cost of $326.7 million (1.1% of GDP) including lost productivity, the cost of medical treatment, lost production due to premature death, and environmental damage.

 "What’s the Problem"

- A single cigarette butt can contaminate around 9 liters of water in less than one hour, killing the marine life in less than 96 hours.

- More than 4,500 toxic chemicals are found in cigarettes including lead and cadmium trapped in the filter (Hoffman, 1997).

- Cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic that is very slow to biodegrade. It takes 12 months to break down in freshwater and up to 5 years to break down in seawater.

- Butt waste is not biodegradable: Filters are non-biodegradable, and while ultraviolet rays from the sun will eventually break them into smaller pieces, the toxic material never disappears and most of it ends up in the ocean.

- Filters may make it easier for young people to start smoking and discourage smokers from quitting (Harris, 2011; National Cancer Institute, 2001; Novotny, 2009).

- Cigarette butts collect in drains and are washed into waterways
- About 6 trillion cigarettes are manufactured a year and over 90% of them contain plastic filters. That's more than one million tons of plastic.
- Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world (around 5 trillion a year!). Tossing a cigarette butt on the ground is one of the most accepted forms of littering, according to the World Health Organization. About two-thirds of butts are dumped irresponsibly -- stubbed out on pavements or dropped into gutters, from where they are carried via storm drains to streams, rivers and oceans.
- Tobacco smoke contains about 250 harmful chemicals, including heavy metals, arsenic and polonium-210, a highly radioactive substance that has been used in assassinations. At least 69 of these chemicals are known to cause cancer.

- Filters were engineered to reduce lung cancer by blocking toxins. 

#aseaofsolutions #BalaPlastic #recyclelebanon #cigarettebuttsareplastic #cigarettesurfboard #tobaccofree #climateaction #climatechange #circulareconomy #breakfreefromplastic #ecodesign #systemchange #lebanon #saveourface #EcoSouk

@jreissatifady @aubni @aub_lebanon

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