SHERIDAN — Cigarette butts kill marine life and litter the earth, and Brian Deurloo with his company Frog Creek Partners, LLC created Gutter Bins to help combat this issue.
“It really all started out with cigarette butts,” Deurloo said. “It’s been a pet peeve of mine, all the cigarette butts on the ground around the world.”
Deurloo grew up in Sheridan, playing football and participating in one of the many state championship wins for the Broncs. Because of his roots, Deurloo chose to make the city of Sheridan his guinea pig for his green technology.
“Sheridan, Wyoming, is my first customer,” Deurloo said. “I want to thank the city of Sheridan, Nic Bateson, Lane Thompson, Tom O’Leary and Mathers Heuck for all their assistance plus the solid waste division, streets division. They’ve bent over backwards.”
The Sheridan Press discovered Deurloo’s project by chance while he and city workers installed the first Gutter Bin on Gould Street right behind The Mint Bar. The second prototype has been installed across the street from The Mint on Main Street. Deurloo put the first two there on purpose, recognizing the likely cigarette waste hitting the ground around one of the most frequented non-smoking bars in town.
“I started focusing on a solution to a problem, and I saw the problem as cigarette butts and water pollution,” Deurloo said.
Deurloo came into the project with vast engineering experience. After earning a degree in mining engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, he worked in the mining engineering business for 16 years. He worked in the Powder River Basin for eight years, then moved to Australia right before the bust. His global work helped him recognize the mass amounts of cigarette waste around the world and pushed him to focus on the Gutter Bin over some of his other ideas.
“I have some other ideas, patents that I’m working on, but the Gutter Bin is really the one that ironed out to be the best business plan,” Deurloo said.
Statistics and their repercussions for the environment horrified Deurloo, who estimates more than 7 million cigarette butts are thrown on the ground in Sheridan each year.
“Scientists at San Diego State University, Elli Slaughter et al. proved that one smoked cigarette butt placed into a liter of water with 10 minnows, doesn’t matter if they’re saltwater or freshwater, would kill five out of 10 fish in four days,” Deurloo explained. “One cigarette butt can kill five fish and nicotinoids are one of the strongest insecticides known to mankind.
“Long story short, the toxins from cigarette butts are killing fish, frogs, birds, even mule deer,” he said. “Even if they eat seven cigarette butts, it kills the rumen in their stomach, the rumen activity where they can starve to death.”
The city of Sheridan currently uses catch basins and other pipe technologies to catch debris right before it discharges into the streams. With Gutter Bins installed, debris catches at the start.
“To have it directly in our inlets is just one more course of action or one more level of defense,” city Public Works Director Nic Bateson said.
The two Gutter Bins and their installation cost the city $1,200 each, but Deurloo expects his invention to save the city money in the long run.
Frog Creek Partners vacuums out the Bins quarterly, or at least semi-annually, and measures weight in order to track effectiveness of the Bin. Catching paint chips, sediment, cigarette butts, water bottles and other trash helps clean the input of the water rather than cleaning water after the fact.
“I think clean water is something that we as Americans take for granted and we’re always focused on cleaning the water that we have, not cleaning the water that we get rid of,” Deurloo said. “We’ve got these BPA-friendly water bottles and we’ve got all these purification devices. Why do we have all these purification water devices? Because the water we’re getting is not clean. If we can, clean our exit, as well as clean our input.”
Deurloo’s patent starts in Sheridan, but ultimately he aims to change the world’s water through global outreach.
“Ultimately, I’m working with America, but I’m also talking to international contacts about getting a more simplified version of Gutter Bin into Third World countries if they can get some of their trash,” Deurloo said.
With the only two prototypes in commission in Sheridan, and with one on the way, production costs remain high. In order to combat the costs, Deurloo seeks public or private sponsorships to partner with him in his goal to clean the earth’s water.
“I’m looking for local businesses that care about the environment, who care about the local watershed, that are looking to partner with me and the city to put [in] more Gutter Bins,” Deurloo said. “Right now, today’s municipalities, especially in Wyoming, are stretched with lack of mineral leasing funds and so forth, but there’s plenty of private businesses that still care about Goose Creek or their local watershed that might have extra monies laying around.”
Frog Creek Partners will stencil the sponsor’s name or company name on the Gutter Bin purchased.
“The two missions of my company quite simply are to clean storm water is number one; number two is make money so I can clean more storm water,” Deurloo said.