Smokers named Australia’s worst litterbugs

CIGARETTE smokers have been revealed as the country’s worst litterbugs, according to the latest results of Australia’s only annual independent litter survey.

Once again cigarette butts have topped the list of the most commonly littererd items in the National Litter Index and in response, Keep Australia Beautiful is calling for a national Butt Free Friday during the annual Keep Australia Beautiful (KAB) Week which starts tomorrow.

Keep Australia Beautiful National Association Chief Executive Officer Peter McLean said it was time for smokers to pick up their act.


“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,” Mr McLean said.

“On Friday during KAB Week, we’re asking smokers to find a bin for their butts.

“A staggering 20 million cigarette butts are flicked onto the ground every day in Australia, which equates to around 7 billion per year[i].

“Cigarette butts continue to be the biggest feature in the index, accounting for almost 50 per cent of the total number of items per 1,000m2.”

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.”

The Butt Free Friday will take place at the end 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”

Australian Packaging Covenant Chief Executive Officer Stan Moore said it was pleasing to see litter improvements across the country.

“The Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index is an important component of a best practice approach that provides regular measurement of our progress towards the goal of reducing litter,” Mr Moore said.

“We are proud to fund and support the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index.

“While the overall results are encouraging, continuing collaboration between community groups, government and industry is required to deliver better litter outcomes.”