- Cigarette butts are the most littered item in Australia.
- Approximately seven billion of the 24 billion filtered cigarettes sold every year in Australia are littered.
- Six out of 10 Australian smokers litter their butts outdoors.
- Cigarette butts comprise around 50 per cent of the Western Australia litter stream.
Why should I care?
- Butts littered on streets get washed into stormwater drains and into waterways where they leach toxic chemicals such as cadmium, lead and zinc.
- Butts are commonly mistaken for food by marine life and have been found in the stomachs of fish, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.
- Cigarette butts are made from non-biodegradable plastic and can take up to 12-15 years to break down.
- Cigarette butts are responsible for 8-10 per cent of bush fires in rural areas.*
Littering is illegal
Flicking cigarettes from your vehicle; stubbing out and flicking butts onto public areas such as footpaths, roads, gutters, bus shelters and outside office buildings can all incur a fine. Under the Litter Act 1979 you can be fined $200 for the incorrect disposal of your butt. If the butt is lit when it is disposed of, and it can be demonstrated that this littering poses a public risk (for example littering in dry grass increasing the risk of a bushfire) then it can lead to a $500 fine.
What you can do to help reduce cigarette butt litter
- If you are a smoker, dispose of your cigarettes butts responsibly by always putting them in a bin.
- Carry a pocket ashtray with you to use when there are no bins around.
- Get your business involved in the Bin Your Butt Program - a workplace education campaign to reduce butt litter.
- If you are a non smoker, or a smoker who does the right thing, you can also help make a difference by registering to become a litter reporter.
REFERENCES: * Planet Ark Cigarette Butt Report 2003; FESA 2009.