A cigarette butt is the small part of a cigarette that is left after smoking and contains the filter. Cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, a plastic product which is not biodegradable. Instead, the filter will break up into smaller and smaller fragments but these will never disappear or break down into naturally-occurring substances; essentially they become diluted in water or soil. This is because the filter fragments cannot be broken down by micro-organisms such as bacteria.
Cigarette butts that are discarded on the street are often washed down drains ending up in streams, rivers and the ocean. They pose a problem to wildlife that ingest the filters and are toxic to certain marine micro-organisms.
Dispose of cigarette butts responsibly in rubbish bins – never throw them on the ground.
Did you know?
- Cigarette butts are the single most collected item in international beach clean-ups each year?