Just one of them can pollute 500 L of water!
On Saturday 22 of April, about 200 volunteers took part in an initiative to clean up the streets of Brussels from cigarette butts (CBs). Although this type of waste is not necessarily considered trash, especially from those who mechanically throw it on the ground, it may actually be one of the biggest sources of pollution on the planet.
The project was organized by Leo Not Happy, a group of socially minded people determined to make public space cleaner (the name Leo Not Happy is a reference to Leonardo Dicaprio's 2016 Oscars acceptance speech about climate change). The initial goal was to collect 30,000 cigarette butts in 2 hours, but 4 times the initial goal was achieved. During the operation, 600 disposable pocket ashtrays were given to passer-by smokers. Up to now, the group has organized five clean-ups and has collected more than three tonnes of waste.
A largely overlooked problem
An estimated 4.5 trillion CBs are discarded annually all around the world, weighing over 500,000 tns. Î‘part from the issues they create in urban centers due to their sheer volume, they also pose a serious threat to living organisms and ecosystem health when discarded in the environment because of their toxicity. Just consider that 1 cigarette butt can pollute up to 500L of water, as it leaks chemicals such as cadmium, lead and arsenic! On top of this, CBs are made of â€˜synthetic polymer cellulose acetateâ€™ and have a low decomposition rate, meaning that after roughly 12 years it will just begin breaking apartâ€¦
Source: La Capitale