Pollution by Cigarette Butt

It’s not well known that 98% of cigarette butts are made from plastic and they are the most littered plastic pollution item breaking up into billions of pieces of microplastics in the ocean. They also contain toxic chemicals.

“One cigarette butt in a litre of water kills half the fish due to its toxicity[1] and the microplastics last many years being ingested by marine life. Our autopsy at Buckingham St pocket park, Surry Hills revealed the nasty truth,’’ said Jeff Angel, Director of Total Environment Centre.

‘’With 1.32billion butts littered each year in NSW, we endorse the proposal by the NSW Environment Department for producers to be made legally responsible for better collection and management.[2]  So far it has been up to local councils to collect the litter and install butt bins at their cost – we need a much bigger effort.’’

‘’Ultimately we will need to adopt non-plastic, genuinely biodegradable alternative or reusable filters and bans in sensitive public environments – and of course to continue to reduce smoking, ’’Mr Angel said.

The autopsy is part of the Buckingham Bins Butts program which will install new bins and develop educational material to encourage better behaviour and management practices.  TEC’s website also provides information on butt bin types that have been independently assessed.[3]


[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3088407/, accessed 23/11/20

[2] DIPE (2020), Cleaning up our act: Redirecting the Future of Plastic in NSW. p25


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