Butt Project Fact Flash
- An estimated 5,6 trillion butts are discarded worldwide every year.
- Estimated cigarette butts discarded annually in the Hermanus CBD is 28 580 629 butts (equivalent to 14,3 ton) in an area of 0,25 km²
- Since 2009 cigarette butts have consistently been the number one item collected at butt ‘hot spots’ in Hermanus such as lookout points, viewing benches along the coast, outside restaurants and in plant boxes in Hermanus,
- Eleven hotspot areas in Hermanus, covering 602m², were monitored for two months.
- Total butts collected was 22 736.
- Cigarette butts are made of cellulose acetate which is a plastic slow to degrade.
- The filters are designed to absorb gases and accumulate particulate smoke matter.
- Cigarette butts are a toxic waste item.
- Tobacco contains nicotine and tar but there are also potentially 1 400 additives that are mixed with the tobacco during manufacture – 50 of these additives are carcinogenic.
- Toxins in the butts leach into the environment, particularly in water.
- This causes wetland, river and marine ecosystem pollution which enters marine food chains and accumulates along the tropic levels.
- Eight Whale Coast Conservation butt bottles were installed in the Hermanus CBD.
- BUT butt bottles were taken and vandalised, making the monitoring data unreliable.
- Preliminary indications are that smokers have responded positively, making use of the receptacles.
- The improved butt bin is more secure and is made of a more durable plastic.
- Bins installed in the CBD area during 2016 will be further monitored.
Litter, Marine debris and more about the project
Whale Coast Conservation is proud to introduce the cigarette butt bin. Why is this so important to us?
Litter is monitored annually in the Overstrand during the International Coastal Cleanup week in September. Since 2009 litter has been collected, sorted and tallied to provide information on what makes up the litter load in the environment and how much of it there is. This waste profile also gives insight into where different types of activities occur and the typical waste that is generated through these activities. Creating campaigns to draw attention to a particular waste item can then be carefully designed to reduce this litter load.
One such common litter item is the cigarette butt. This is by far the most numerous and potentially dangerous litter item of all. Smokers typically smoke at public benches and outside restaurants. There are usually also one or two favourite spots at office buildings and shopping centres.
Discarded cigarette butts in the environment are a health hazard because they contain toxins which leach out into the soil, ground water, rivers and sea rather quickly. When this is taken in by animals which are then eaten by other animals and humans, these toxins move along food chains until found in all parts of the food web. Keeping the butts out of our environment is urgent.
We believe the butt bin will help to raise awareness of the problem and its use will help to make our environment a healthier place for us all.
Whale Coast Conservation aims to change the habit of carelessly flicking the butt into the habit of carefully binning the butt.