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Tuesday 5 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C
butt out

Cigarette butts make up more than half of the litter on Dublin's streets

To help draw attention to this Dublin City Council has started a new campaign.

DublinCityCouncil / YouTube

CIGARETTE BUTTS MAKE up more than half of the litter on the streets of the capital – so Dublin City Council has launched a new campaign to get people to use ashtrays.

The campaign, Bin the Butt!, was inspired by the National Litter Pollution Monitoring System (NLPMS) for Dublin City Council, which showed that cigarette litter is the main source of litter in Dublin City, and cigarette butts account for 60% of all street litter in Dublin City.

The litter report highlighted that cigarette waste – which includes butts, packets, and matches, now accounts for over half of all Dublin street litter, followed by food related litter (19%) and packaging items (9%).

Chewing gum was found to be the main food related litter issue in Dublin City.

The NLPMS litter report also revealed that the main causes of litter pollution in Dublin City are passing pedestrians (61%), passing motorists (15%), and retail outlets (7%).

Simon Brock, Waste Management Services Officer, Dublin City Council, that: “When we go out to quantify the litter what is apparent is there is a multiple of cigarette butts in compared to other litter. Each one of them represents an incident of littering.”

He said that the aim of the campaign is to try and make people think about what they’re doing. “There’s a perception maybe that smokers don’t see the cigarette butt as litter and trying to make that connection between unconscious or instinctive activity and the alternative of putting the butt into a cigarette ashtray.”

DCC Bin the Butt Campaign 2

He said that there are over 3,000 bins in Dublin city, and that many licensed premises also have the ashtrays. “Our experience would be that all of our cigarette ashtrays in our bins are well used,” said Brock – but people are still dropping the butts on the ground.

He said the bins with ashtrays are located in strategic points in the city where people gather. “We’re trying to use the infrastructure that is already there,” rather than introduce new ashtrays, said Brock.

The campaign wants people to think: “You wouldn’t throw a coffee cup, you wouldn’t throw a sweet wrapper on the ground – think of your cigarette that way. See it for what it is,” said Brock.

Cigarette butts are not biodegradable. “They are a form of plastic, they contain a lot of chemicals and toxins that are created in the process of smoking,” said Brock. He said that the butts can make their way into the water course or be eaten by animals. It takes 12 years for a cigarette butt to break down.

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