Spartan Grill owner Mike Roylos shoveled a pile of 60,000 cigarette butts into Monument Square on Wednesday to celebrate Earth Day and seek additional sponsors for a downtown cleanup and recycling effort.

The stinking butts – 40 pounds of them – were collected over the last seven weeks in 70 tubular SideWalk Buttlers installed on posts along Congress, Exchange, Commercial and other downtown streets.

Since Roylos introduced the receptacles in December, he has collected more than 300,000 butts that otherwise would have wound up in the cracks and crevices of Portland’s trademark brick sidewalks.

“I hate seeing them on the street,” said Roylos, whose Greek restaurant offers outdoor seating on Monument Square in warm weather.

The receptacles are emptied regularly by workfare volunteers who receive benefits through the city’s General Assistance program, Roylos said. He bags and ships the butts to a recycling company that separates the biodegradable tobacco and paper from the plastic filters, which are recycled into new plastic products.

It costs $69 to sponsor a SideWalk Buttler. So far, the receptacles have been sponsored by the city, the Natural Resources Council of Maine and other donors.

To learn more about sponsoring one or more SideWalk Buttlers, contact Roylos at [email protected]

– Story and photo by Kelley Bouchard, staff writer