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

Category 3 fires to be prohibited in Southeast Fire District

The prohibition will take effect at noon on Wednesday, June 12

Editorial: We’re already ambassadors to our community

There are many ways to spend your extra time in Golden. Have… Continue reading

Data shows nine years of Tourism Golden growth

Tourism Golden has seen its ninth consecutive year of substantial growth in… Continue reading

Protecting small mammals after logging near Golden

A team of biologists are keeping an eye on small mammals in… Continue reading

Business profile: IGA celebrates 50 years of business in Golden

IGA has been providing the Town of Golden with their groceries for… Continue reading

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. VIEWS: When farmland protection doesn’t protect farmers

Secondary residences aren’t mansions, families tell Lana Popham

Bombers down B.C. Lions 33-23 in season opener

Former Lion Andrew Harris leads Winnipeg with 148 rushing yards

Northern B.C. family remembers murdered Indigenous woman with memorial walk

Still no closure for Ramona Wilson’s family 25 years later

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

Most Read