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

Avalanche control scheduled tomorrow on Highway 1 east of Revelstoke

Avalanche control work is scheduled along Highway 1 on Dec 15. From… Continue reading

Shuswap thief nabs purse in hospital, attempts to steal taxi

Salmon Arm RCMP arrest suspect who judge orders to stay behind bars until trial

School District 83 says a buyer is lined up for Salmon Arm’s DAC

Few details available, but sale is said to be finalized by Jan. 31

Okanagan College unlocks time capsule

Items placed in 1993 and kept in capsule in library opened at special ceremony

Natalie Wilkie takes fourth at Para Nordic World Championships in Finland

Salmon Arm Paralympian finishes with top time among Team Canada’s women’s skiers

VIDEO: Royals reveal the images on their Christmas cards

Prince William and his wife Kate are shown outside in casual clothes, their three young children in tow

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Canada’s prospective world junior team members await final roster decisions

Thirty-four players were invited to the national junior selection camp

Family searching for B.C. professor last seen at Colombian salsa club

Ramazan Gencay, a professor in economics at Simon Fraser University, was last seen in Medellin

Final phase of Kelowna hospital cardiac centre completed

Finishing new recovery rooms last stage of $381 million project

Rash of bomb threats a learning opportunity for response capacity, Goodale

Thursday’s wave of bomb threats swept across communities on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border

Most Read