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

Ucluelet mayor thanks team at last meeting

Dianne St. Jacques is not running for re-election this month.

VIDEO: This is what buying legal pot in B.C. looks like

Take a look inside B.C.’s first and only legal pot shop located in Kamloops

10 things still illegal in the new age of recreational cannabis

Pot is legal – but there are still a lot of rules, and breaking some could leave you in jail

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

VIDEO: Rescued eagle released in Ucluelet

“I’m very confident that he’s going to make it. He’s done very well.”

Mellow opening to B.C.’s only legal pot shop

About five people lined up early for the opening of the BC Cannabis Store in Kamloops.

Jagmeet Singh says marijuana pardons are not enough

Trudeau government will streamline pardon process for Canadians convicted of simple possession of marijuana in the past

Caregivers banned from smoking, growing cannabis around children-in-care: MCFD

Ministry has limited cannabis use for caregivers, stating it may “pose a risk to children and youth.”

Cheaper strains sell out within minutes on online BC Cannabis Store

Province says new strains will become available in the coming months

Only 40% of B.C. car dealerships have electric cars available: report

Researchers found buyers frustrated at the lack of options

VIDEO: Millionaire Lottery returns to give back and win big

Since 1996, Millionaire Lottery has raised $52 million for the VGH+UBC Hospital Foundation

Test case challenges a politician’s right to block people from Twitter account

3 people say Watson infringed their constitutional right to freedom of expression by blocking them

‘A little odd’ B.C.’s biggest city celebrates cannabis without a legal store

On the streets of downtown Vancouver, notably the Wild West of illegal marijuana, not a single legal store opened Wednesday, making for a rather anticlimatic kick-off

BC Ferries begins taking debit in two-month pilot project

Company is giving customers option to use Interac on two-month trial on select vessels

Most Read