of the 6 trillion cigarettes that are smoked every year around the world, it is calculated that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts end up in nature. This was revealed in the report «Butts in natural areas» of the project, a joint partnership between the NGO Seo/BirdLife and Ecoembes.
The problem is exacerbated during the summer by the greater human presence in natural environments, where cigarette butts become basuraleza – term relating to existing in the nature – trash and have become the primary source of global spam.
The issue is not something unknown. A report by the NGO Ocean Conservancy last year determined that cigarette butts accounted for 13% of the total number of waste collected in its global campaign. And not only the quality of the water and the Earth is threatened, but that many species may eventually poisoned by this waste, due to the toxicity of its components, which can last between seven and 12 years.
The oceans are also affected. Every cigarette butt can contaminate up to 10 liters of water, and up to 50 litres if it is fresh water. In the case of marine animals, butts intake is common and may cause direct toxicity.
«The effect of a simple stub in the environment is devastating. We need to make society aware of how they can destroy biodiversity as a result of these residues occurring not only in the urban environment, but also in the nature», said Sara Güemes, Coordinator of Ecoembes the project releases.
Every cigarette butt takes between 8 to 12 years to decompose. Almost all cigarettes that are sold have a filter of cellulose acetate, a component that is not biodegradable, and although the rays of the Sun can eventually break the filter into small pieces, the material does not go away. And as the cigarette filter is designed to accumulate the tobacco components, including the most harmful chemicals such as cadmium, arsenic, tar, or toluene, are released when they come into contact with water, which represents a serious threat to the biodiversity.
«The problem of cigarette butts is that they are made of cellulose acetate, a component derived from petroleum. The first step is to try to replace this component with filters of biodegradable materials that already exist», said Miguel Muñoz, project coordinator of SEO/BirdLife releases.
The other serious problem causing cigarette butts in nature are fires caused by improperly extinguished cigarettes or those who are thrown from a vehicle walk. A problem compounded in the summer by high temperatures, wind and lack of rain.
«The citizens must understand the consequences that have a gesture so everyday, but as uncontrolled as it is to throw a cigarette butt. This lack of responsibility requires influencing awareness as the main tool to achieve a change of conduct in society,»said Guemes.
There are campaigns like #SeTeHaCaído or #TenemosUnProblema to take awareness of the problem.