Cigarette butts which are often tossed on land end up in the ocean. Every year, 4,500 billion cigarette butts are discarded on the ground worldwide. This typical action has serious ramifications for many people. Cigarette butts are dispersed to sewers or rivers by the wind or rain before ending up in the ocean.
This is not only a problem in cities; they are the most common waste collected on our coastlines during Ocean Initiatives cleanup. In addition to being the number one public adversary of our beaches, the tobacco industry waste pollutes throughout its entire lifecycle.
Tobacco is a significant hindrance to deforestation, consuming over 200 000 hectares of land each year and affecting entire ecosystems.
The WHO analysis tracks the environmental implications of this business from tobacco plant cultivation to manufacturing and trash.
Cigarettes are a veritable chemical cocktail. A single cigarette butt pollutes 500L of water. The mass of cigarette butts discovered during the Ocean Initiatives in 2021 equals the Chinese population’s annual water usage.
This widespread contamination has ramifications for aquatic life, as it confronts a complex combination of chemical components.
Cigarette filters pose two significant issues. First, they contribute to plastic pollution since they are made of cellulose acetate, which degrades into micro and nano plastic particles when exposed to water. The filter then consolidates more than 2500 harmful chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, ammonia, lead, and nicotine after the cigarette is consumed. When cigarette butts reach the water, they release all of these toxic components. They are present in 70% of seabirds. Because butts are ecotoxic, the INERIS defines them as harmful waste.
Put an end to cigarette butt pollution
In the midst of this pollution, we must never dump our cigarette butts on the ground; instead, we must dispose of our cigarettes in the garbage or in the pocket ashtray that we carry.
Remember that it is against the law in many countries to toss trash on the ground and that the public authorities impose a fine for discarding cigarette butts on the ground.
To limit the presence of cigarette butts in public spaces, the anti-waste law for a circular economy (AGEC) in France attaches cigarette butts to the producer’s expanded obligation and enforces a special collection route for this trash. This indicates that in accordance with the polluter pays concept, the tobacco business makes an eco-contribution to an eco-organization in charge of collecting and treating butts. Street ashtrays and a public awareness campaign will be installed.
There is still more work to be done to prevent tobacco pollution throughout its life cycle.
To safeguard the ocean and our health, the first habit is to toss your cigarette butt in the bin, not on the ground.
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