Since its inception, the Vancouver Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been holding monthly beach cleanups along the South coast of Vancouver Island. A wide variety of debris is gathered at cleanups, however, cigarette butts dominate shoreline survey results on our urban shores. They are repeatedly the number one type of debris gathered (by count).
Cigarette butts are also found littering streets, sidewalks and public spaces. These butts not only pose a waste management challenge for local governments, they also can find their way to the marine environment as run off in storm drains. In the marine environment, they pose a significant threat to marine life.
The Environmental Impact of Cigarette Butts:
- Cigarette butts are the single greatest source of ocean pollution. More than 5 trillion butts are improperly disposed of in our environment each year.
- Cigarette butts leach toxins when wet, posing a threat to marine life.
- Cigarette butts take over 25 years to decompose.
- When not properly extinguished, cigarette butts pose a significant fire threat.
- In 2018, more than 500,000 cigarette butts were removed from local beaches by the Great Canadian Shoreline cleanup.