Vancouver, Victoria shorelines littered with cigarette butts: researchers

Collecting waste could help find management systems focused on reducing plastic pollution

Cigarettes and their filters made from plastic account for almost 50 per cent of the waste collected along the Vancouver and Victoria shorelines, says a study analyzing data from volunteer coastline cleanups in British Columbia.

University of British Columbia researchers said Thursday the findings could help guide future waste management strategies, especially when it comes to reducing plastic pollution.

Study co-author Cassandra Konecny, a zoology master’s student, said cigarette filters are made of plastic and when butts are dropped on the street they move from drainage systems to the ocean and shorelines.

She said many people believe cigarette butts are biodegradable, but they are a source of plastic pollution.

“There’s been studies looking at how a lot of smokers don’t consider throwing cigarette butts on the ground littering,” Konecny said. “For a lot of people, it’s pretty shocking to hear that they are made of plastic and I don’t think it’s very common knowledge.”

Representatives from Canada’s tobacco industry could not be reached for comment.

The researchers examined data from 1,226 voluntary cleanup initiatives organized as Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup events along B.C.’s coastline from 2013 to 2016. Konecny said 80 to 90 per cent of the waste collected was some form of plastic. The types of plastic collected varied at different geographical locations, but half the litter gathered in the Vancouver and Victoria area was from cigarette debris.

“Lots of cigarettes, cigarette filters down here in the southern Strait of Georgia, but up in the North Coast we get a lot more items that we categorized as shoreline recreation, and those include plastic bottles and plastic bags,” she said.

Konecny said campaigns to ban single-use plastic straws have gained attention but the shoreline waste study signals cigarette litter is also an area in need of focus.

“For example, we’ve heard a lot recently about banning single-use plastic straws in the city of Vancouver. But if the data shows that smoking is a big issue and mostly we’re just picking up cigarettes, that’s perhaps a good place to start.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Sound of Prince Rupert’s cherry trees to be played around the world

Salvaged wood from chopped sakura trees is being crafted into taiko drum sticks

The Postmen collect 45 boxes of supplies for wildfire relief

Prince Rupert donations of food, water and toilet paper to be delivered to Burns Lake first

Coastal police unit operating with half its members

RCMP report to Port Edward council reveals low numbers on the coastal force

In Our Opinion: How to lose an ammonia tank— ask the city

How did a 68kg cylinder of ammonia remain unseen after multiple audits and assessments

Donation drop off tonight for B.C. wildfire victims

The Postmen have set up a three-day depot at the Moose Hall in Prince Rupert for disaster relief

This Week Podcast – Episode 98

From the Prince Rupert Golf Club, catch up on sports, entertainment and news highlights

The Northern View 2018 Readers Choice

Vote online or at the Prince Rupert office before noon on Sept. 7

Red Cross now accepting donations for those impacted by B.C. wildfires

The Canadian Red Cross is asking for help now and in the weeks and months ahead.

B.C. program to educate parents reduces ‘shaken baby syndrome’ by 35%

Period of PURPLE Crying was launched nearly a decade ago

B.C. golfer, just 23, scores the rare albatross

Six-million-to-one shot a first for the Terrace club

Fredericton widow swears at Trudeau during condolence call

Widow of man killed in Fredericton shooting says she swore at Trudeau during condolence call.

Tim Hortons promises leaky lids on coffee cups to be phased out

Tim Hortons looks to rebuild its brand with better lid, new marketing campaign

‘There’s been a lot of devastation:’ man whose family lost homes in B.C. fire

The provincial government declared a state of emergency Wednesday as more than 550 wildfires burn in every corner of B.C.

Capsized tug now out of the water at the mouth of B.C.’s Fraser River

The 19-metre-long George H. Ledcor capsized late Monday.

Most Read