Cigarette butts are the most common litter item on Canadian shorelines – with a staggering 560,432 found during 2018's Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.
Butts topped the Dirty Dozen in a collaboration between World Wildlife Fund Canada, The Butt Blitz, and Ocean Wise.
Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that in urban areas such as Vancouver and Victoria, cigarettes accounted for nearly 50 per cent of the litter collected between 2013 and 2016. Other top polluters in the Dirty Dozen report included tiny plastic or foam pieces, food wrappers and bottle caps.
“These numbers confirm the devastating impact of plastic pollution on shorelines. Whether in the form of cigarette butts or bottle caps, the growing rate of plastic in our waters is alarming,” says spokesperson Kate Le Souef. “Cigarette butts break down into microplastics, which can have harmful effects on marine life.”
Over the 25 years the Shoreline Cleanup has been going, nearly 1.8 million kilograms of litter have been prevented from entering freshwater and marine ecosystems.
So far this year, volunteers have co-ordinated 576 cleanups and collected 34,363 kg of litter on 1,410 kilometres of Canadian shoreline.
You can register to take part at ShorelineCleanup.ca.