Let's bin plastic butts

Cigarettes’ hidden plastic: The unfiltered truth

With cigarette butts being the most littered item in the world – where only about one third of the 6.5 trillion cigarettes smoked every day find their way into a bin – the fact that they are made of plastic is a real problem for us!

Hubbub research

According to a recent Hubbub poll of over 3,000 people, only 1 in 4 smokers (28%) realise that cigarette butts are made from plastic.

Clearly, a big part of the problem in the UK is lack of awareness.

And there’s a LOT to be more aware of when it comes to our #plasticbutts

The unfiltered truth about plastic butts

A third of smokers (34%) believe it takes less than a year for a cigarette butt to decompose. The truth is it never ‘decomposes’ and can take up to 10 years to start breaking down into microplastics.

And when cigarette butts are thrown as litter, over time they release those microplastics and leach out toxic chemicals that can be lethal to plants and animals.

So it’s frightening to hear that Hubbub found that more than a quarter (28%) of smokers they polled admit to dropping their cigarette butts down the drain – giving those plastic butts a direct route to our waterways and oceans!

The good news

There is hope: Hubbub found that once they know it’s plastic in their cigarette butts, most smokers (57%) say they’d be more willing to look for an ashtray. And staggering 34% say they’re more likely to quit smoking altogether!

#plasticbutts campaign

We support Hubbub’s campaign to raise awareness of the fact that cigarette butts are made from plastic. After all, as their research suggests, if people are aware of the facts, solutions to the problem of cigarette litter will emerge – especially as it becomes no longer socially acceptable to drop cigarette litter.

Steps for change

As Hubbub have identified, in order to tackle the problem of cigarette litter, we need at least three things.

  1. More cigarette bins in key hotspots. After all, 55% and 51% of smokers respectively say there should be more ashtrays at bus stops and at taxi ranks/outside supermarkets.
  2. For littering cigarette butts to become socially unacceptable – just like dropping a plastic bottle in the street is. And by more smokers and non-smokers knowing the truth about #PlasticButts, we hope it will spur a change in social attitude.
  3. For more smokers to bin their butts or take them home with them.

Find out more

Hubbub have come up with Ballot Bins to support this campaign and found that a Hubbub Ballot Bin reduces cigarette litter by around 46%. Testimony to this, is that their award-winning Neat Streets BCP campaign proved that with the right location it can be as much as 73%!

Given that cash-strapped councils around the UK are forking out around £40m a year to deal with clearing up cigarette butts, Hubbub believes that the tobacco industry should accelerate plans to get rid of the plastic in cigarette butts altogether.

If, like us, you support this work by Hubbub, and would like to share the news about #PlasticButts and get involved in the campaign or find out how Ballot Bins might help where you are, then please do get in touch by emailing them at hello@hubbub.co.uk

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