Did you know it is estimated that 1.32 billion cigarette butts are tossed each year in NSW, making them the most littered item in our state?
To help reduce this, we’ve collaborated with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) to install new butt bins and signage around the Shellharbour City area. So far, we’ve already reduced cigarette butt litter in the hotspot areas by an average of 40%!
Why is reducing cigarette butt litter so important?
Despite their small size, cigarette butts take up to 10 years to break down.
When a cigarette is tossed, it can quickly transport into stormwater drains which run out to nearby waterways and natural areas. In just one hour, chemicals from cigarette butts start to release and continue to do so until they break down, which in turn damages the quality of our waterways and causes harm to wildlife.
According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF Australia), cigarette butts have been found in the stomachs of birds, turtles, whales, fish and other marine animals. This can affect an animal’s digestion and potentially lead to poisoning or starvation.
Fire and Rescue NSW have also reported that hundreds of roadside fires are believed to be caused by discarded butts each year.
What are the penalties for tossing a butt?
If a lit cigarette is tossed from a vehicle, heavy penalties apply for both drivers and passengers. Motorists can expect a fine of $660 and five demerit points. If the offence is committed during a total fire ban, 10 demerit points apply and fines of up to $11,000.
What can you do to help?
If you are a smoker, always dispose your cigarette butts responsibility by discarding in a bin or a pocket ashtray.
If you see someone littering, you can report a tosser anywhere, anytime.
For more information on reducing cigarette butt litter, visit the NSW EPA website here.
This project is a NSW Environment Protection Authority, Waste Less, Recycle More initiative funded by the waste levy.