Cigarette Butts -The Most Abundant Plastic Waste In The World

In Clean Talk, Environment, Sustainability, Waste Management

Cigarette butts are actually the most abundant form of plastic waste in the world, with about 4.5 trillion individual butts polluting our global environment. 

But wait, aren’t cigarette butts made of cotton or paper? NO, cigarette butts are primarily plastic.

Cigarette Butts

They are small and tend to go unnoticed but they are hiding almost everywhere. Contrary to what many believe, cigarette butts are not harmless.

They are made of cellulose acetate, a man-made plastic material, and contain hundreds of toxic chemicals.

While cigarette filters, or the plastic part of butts, can take up to 10 years to completely degrade, the chemicals they release can remain in the environment for many more years beyond the life of the cigarette butt itself.

These lingering toxins include arsenic (also used in rat poisoning), lead (a poison that can affect the brain development of children) and nicotine.

When these toxic plastics are improperly disposed of on the street corner or out the car window, they slowly leach toxins into our natural systems, presenting a serious threat to us and our environment. 

These tiny toxic butts also cause significant harm to our water sources. It is not uncommon for field researchers to find cigarette inside of dead sea birds, sea turtles, fish and dolphins.

What’s more, a 2011 Study found that the chemicals leaching from butts can be lethal to freshwater and marine fish species. 

It is imperative to ensure that the butts find their way to the waste bin or are sent to a recycling facility. Like all litter, cigarette butts require labor intensive work to be removed from the environment.

This story is based on ” Earth Day Network” newsletter; edited by Clean-Future Team

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