They Don’t Degrade, They Pollute

Statistics are hard to come by in the world of cigarette litter and that is what we are trying to change with our cigarette receptacle. Cigarette butts are the last socially accepted form of litter. A good number of people still think cigarette butts are biodegradable because the filters are cotton, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Cigarette filters are actually made of cellulose acetate, a synthetic compound derived from the acetylation of the plant substance cellulose and they capture over 4,000 chemicals that are introduced into the environment just by being tossed. These pollutants include cigarette particulate matter (tar) and mainstream smoke—including carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, nitrogen oxides, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, ammonia, acetaldehyde, formaldehyde, benzene, phenol, argon, pyridines and acetone, over 50 of which are known to be carcinogenic to humans—one can clearly see a huge health impact brewing. And these toxins eventually leach into the ground and our waterways.

A bigger issue than you may think.

Waste from smoking constitutes an estimated 30% of the total litter (by count) on U.S. shorelines, waterways, and on land. Cigarette butts are usually the most common piece of litter collected along waterways during the Ocean Conservancy’s yearly International Coastal Cleanup. In fact, over 2 million cigarette butts were picked up during the 2009 cleanup.