WITH cigarette butt litter rates soaring, Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) is calling for a national day of awareness this week in the form of Butt Free Friday.
Australia’s only annual independent litter survey, the National Litter Index (NLI), has found that cigarette butts account for almost 50 per cent of all the items littered.
KAB National Association Chief Executive Officer Peter McLean said it was time for smokers to pick up their act.
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“Our research has shown that oddly enough, some people don’t consider flicking cigarette butts onto the ground to be littering,” Mr McLean said.
“It well and truly is, and according to the latest NLI 2013/2014 results, cigarette butts are the most frequently identified item with 23 butts per 1,000m2.
“The overall average number of items per 1,000m2 across the country was 51 items – meaning cigarette butts account for almost half the total number of items.
“We’re urging smokers to make a conscious effort to ‘Butt It and Bin It’, instead of taking the lazy option of flicking their butts onto the ground.
“A staggering 20 million cigarette butts are flicked onto the ground every day in Australia, which equates to around 7 billion per year.
Mr McLean said that it wasn’t just the sheer quantity of butts that was the problem but also the damage they could potentially cause.
“Cigarette butts contain toxic chemicals including arsenic, cadmium and toluene,” he said.
“They’re plastic and aren’t biodegradable which means they can take up to 10 years to break down.
“They pollute our waterways, our parks, our streets and our beaches, and are a danger to our wildlife.”
Butt Free Friday is on the 29th August, as part of KAB Week which is an annual event that raises awareness for Keep Australia Beautiful’s anti-littering campaigns.
“This year is our 10th anniversary of KAB Week and we’re urging all Australian’s to help keep our beautiful country clean,” Mr McLean said.
“As a country, we have improved and have decreased the amount of litter we’re dropping, but when there are still 20 million cigarette butts littered every day it means we have a long way to go.
“The good news is that anyone can help with our littering prevention programs by supporting the new Litter Fighting Fund at www.litterfightingfund.org.au”