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766M kg of trash yearly are cigarette butts – UNEP

Republika

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has found that cigarette butts make up over 766 million kilograms of toxic trash every year. They are also the most common plastic litter found on beaches.


Over six trillion cigarettes are produced annually worldwide, it said. All of those have butts or filters that are mostly made of microplastics-specifically, cellulose acetate fibers.


“Cigarette butts that are not properly disposed of get broken down by factors such as sunlight and moisture,” UNEP stated, “thus releasing microplastics, heavy metals and many other chemicals which impact the ecosystems’ health and services.”


Cigarette’s microplastics have hazardous chemicals that can lead to long-term issues when ingested. This includes birds, fish, mammals, marine life, reptiles and even plants.


Even the food chain ends up with microplastics, UNEP added. As a result, “serious human health impacts” occur such as negative effects on brain development, genetics, respiration rates and much more.


A new United Nations partnership was announced earlier this month for better awareness on the health and environmental impacts of microplastics in cigarette butts.


UNEP is set to launch a social media campaign in collaboration with the Secretariat of the World Health Organization-Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to really shed light on the issue and raise awareness.


It’s a partnership via the Clean Seas campaign of UNEP. Sixty-three countries make up the global coalition devoted to eradicating marine plastic pollution.

Photo: BrightVibes


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