A new study by the Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety has found that cigarette butts are harmful to plant growth. In particular, they reduce the germination rate and shoot length.
Approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are discarded every year, and the majority are not properly disposed.
However, what most people do not know is the filter in the cigarette butt contains a bioplastic called Cellulose Acetate Fibre.
Smoked Vs. Unsmoked
You may be thinking that only smoked cigarettes are the issue due to the burning of tobacco and other chemicals.
However, the research has concluded that unsmoked cigarettes have the same effect.
In reality, the chemical makeup of the filter is to blame for the harmful effects on plants.
Decomposition Takes Time
Unfortunately, it is very common to throw cigarette butts on the ground. You can find them littering streets, parks, the front of restaurants, and just about anywhere smokers go.
However, it can take anywhere from 18 months to 10 years for the filter to fully decompose.
Large cities spend millions of dollars cleaning these up and are beginning to enforce harsher littering fines.
This should, unfortunately, sound familiar to plastic pollution. Every year hundreds of millions of pounds of plastic are created.
However, only 10% of this is recycled. The rest finds its way into landfills and oceans.
Our oceans are littered with plastics and it will take decades for them to naturally decompose, which will kill hundreds of millions of fish and other sea life.
Humanity Has A Pollution Problem
Humanity has a big problem with pollution. Regardless of whether it’s cigarette butts, plastics, or something else, we are producing a lot of waste without a good way of disposing of the material.
Even when we do have methods for proper disposal, like recycling, only a small fraction of people make the effort.
This wasteful behavior is having an effect on plant growth and wildlife. If left unchecked, we will have plastic oceans and mountains of waste.