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

Charges upgraded against mother of murdered Langley girl

Kerryann Lewis now faces first- rather than second-degree murder in the death of Aaliyah Rosa.

WATCH: Farm Country Brewing in Langley City expected to open in summer

Farm Country Brewing is currently under construction and is planned to open in summer 2019.

LETTER: Langley letter writer takes jabs at mayor’s jersey choice

A sports fan chides Langley City’s mayor for sporting an Oilers jersey in Canucks country.

LETTER: Local Liberal MP challenges letter writer’s facts on immigration

The local MP makes the distinction between asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees.

Dr. Keith Lamont, founder of Langley Community Music School, passed away at age 89

Dr. Keith Lamont’s funeral service is on Jan. 20 at the Langley Community Music School

VIDEO: U.S. Congress to probe whether Trump told lawyer Cohen to lie

At issue is a BuzzFeed News report that about negotiations over a Moscow real estate project

Rookie Demko backstops Canucks to 4-3 win over Sabres

Young Vancouver goalie makes 36 saves to turn away Buffalo

UPDATE: Injured firefighter in stable condition

Kelowna fire crews responded to a blaze at Pope’sGallery of BC Art & Photography on Friday

Book a ride on a driverless shuttle in Surrey or Vancouver

Automated vehicle demos are being offered, as the two cities plan pilot projects with the shuttles

Heavy snowfall expected on the Coquihalla

Snowfall warning in effect for the Coquihalla Highway, from Hope to Merritt

Rare ‘super blood wolf moon’ takes to the skies this Sunday

Celestial event happens only three times this century

Arrest made after historic B.C. church hit by arson

The fire at the 150-year-old Murray United Church in Merritt was considered a possible hate crime

Missing man from Crowsnest Pass could be in Lower Mainland

58-year-old Stuart David Duff was last seen on Jan. 6, 2019.

B.C. dangerous offender in court for violating no-contact order, sends letter to victim

Wayne Belleville was shocked to see a letter addressed to him from his shooter, Ronald Teneycke

Most Read