270.000 Cigarette Butts Collected By 240 Volunteers in 3 Hours in Brussels

We’ve read so many complains of how millions of plastic straws end up in oceans. Well, new study confirms that cigarette filters are actually the worst contaminant in our waters.

Entire corporations, retailers and states target plastic straws, and several food chains have already banned their use. A new report suggests that cigarette filters may be the worst man-made contaminant of waters.

Cigarette filters are the worst contaminant

Do you know that Marriott, Hyatt, Starbucks and McDonald have banned the use of plastic straws?

A report released by NBC News notes that cigarette butts are worse than plastic straws and plastic bags. When was the last time you saw someone disposing cigarette butts properly? Never, right? The disposal of these pieces isn’t regulated yet, and uncontrollable number of cigarette filters ends up in oceans.

Individuals and groups have started off campaigns to change this.

The Cigarette Butt Pollution Project is focused on banning cigarette filters made from cellulose acetate. It’s a type of plastic that decomposes within a decade. Producers make 5.6 trillion cigarettes with these filters. Two-thirds of these filters end up all over the planet.

Thomas Nobotny, founder of the campaign and health professor, told NBC that these filters have no benefits, adding that they serve as a marketing tool. Filtered cigarettes aren’t safer than unfiltered cigarettes. The introduction of filters was part of the marketing campaign, and resulted in tons of waste. There are absolutely no added health benefits.

Cigarette butts got our attention

It all started when researchers became aware of the danger brought by cigarette buts. Cellulose acetate takes a decade to decompose, remember?

There’s an annual beach cleanup sponsored by the Ocean Conservancy. The project started off in 1986.

For 32 years, groups have picked up more than 60 million cigarette butts. This is a third of all collected trash and much more than all plastic items combined.

The trash is usually left on beaches, but it usually ends in waters through storm drains, streams and rivers. The waste disintegrates in tiny pieces, and ends up in the belly of fish and other wildlife.

Pieces of plastic are found in 70% of all seabirds and 30% of sea turtles.

Cigarette butts contain synthetic fibers and maybe thousands of chemicals producers use to “prepare” tobacco.

Nick Mallos, director of the Trash Free Seas campaign for the Ocean Conservancy notes that experts need to conduct more research to determine the impact of cigarette butts. We all wonder what happens to the tiny pieces of plastic and other waste, and what’s their effect on human health.