Smokers throw their butts onto the ground and somehow don’t consider that as littering, and will do the right thing with their food wrappers or soft drink bottle – why are cigarette butts different?
The absence of bins until recently, and an established culture of stubbing out on to the street, is part of the explanation.
Butts contain a filter which is made out of a type of plastic, as well as the wrapper which is paper and will biodegrade. The plastic, in common with other plastics, takes years to degrade and then only into tiny pieces that survive in the environment.
We know from inspecting our harbours that billions of cigarette butts lie on the sea floor. The nicotine they contain is toxic to wildlife.
By 2015, the world is predicted to be consuming 9 trillion filtered cigarettes a year. Read about our big butt problem here.