Many small butts create a big garbage fuss

Each year, 1 billion cigarette butts end up on the Swedish streets. If we line them up in a row, they equal a distance of
20 000 kilometers. That’s like going from Sweden to South Africa, and back again. And if we look at the world at large, the number is 4 500 billion cigarette butts.
A staggering figure, and a huge problem – for our environment and for our society. The cigarette butt is the world’s most common garbage.

Did you know that:

67% of all garbage on the streets in our cities are cigarette butts. That’s an average of almost four butts per ten square meters. Cigarette butts are the most common garbage found on our beaches.*

*Source: ”Skräprapport 2019” from the Swedish organization Håll Sverige Rent

Dangerous plastic – not paper

Did you think the cigarette filter is made out of paper? So did we. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. 60% of the filters consist of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that degrades very slowly. This process can take several years, and the worst part is that even when we can no longer see the filters, they’re still with us. Just like all other plastics, cellulose acetate breaks down into microplastics that can remain for a hundred years – or more.

Harmful substances

And sadly, that’s not all. The harmful substances in tobacco get stuck in the filter so that they do not reach the smoker's lungs. These are substances that are also dangerous to nature, including cadmium which is also found in batteries. For example, studies show that leachate from cigarette butts is acutely toxic to fish. When the butts end up on the street, they easily slip into the storm drains and further out into the sea. Then, add to that the fact that butts can be tempting to put in the mouth for both curious children and animals. Ingesting a cigarette butt is not good for anyone.