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Cigarette butts are the single biggest source of ocean trash

Cigarette butts are the single biggest source of ocean trash

According to data collected by BGO Ocean Conservancy, an astonishing 60 million cigarette filters have been collected since the 1980s.

Ocean pollution is a very serius problem and one that seems to be cropping up a lot in the news at the moment. When we hear the term ‘’ocean pollution’’, we think about straws, bottles and other plastic garbage that come to mind, but there’s another sort of waste that’s far worse and has, so far, received fas less attention than it warrants.

We talk about cigarette filters. At first, they may seem small and relatively harmless, but they can cause irreversible damage to oceans and wildlife in general, particularly in the numbers in which they’re currently found. According to data collected by BGO Ocean Conservancy, an astonishing 60 million cigarette filters have been collected since the 1980s. That’s a lot more than plastic bags, food wrappers, drinks bottles of straws.

Most smokers don’t actually realise how extensive and harmful their behaviour can be, not just for the environment and for ecosystems, but for themselves as consumers too.

Most cigarette filters consist at least in part of cellulose acetate, which is, in itself, is a natural product. As a result, many people are under the false assumption that cigarette filters are biodegradable, which a study published by the BMJ had previously suggested. The truth, however, is that a plastic that isn't biodegradable often forms when the cellulose acetate is processed, so it actually takes a lot longer for cigarette filters to decay than it should.

Until the filters begin decaying, they also release all the pollutants they absorb from the smoke, including substances such as nicotine, arsenic, and lead. These, as well as the decaying plastic, are then consumed by various sea creatures and, if that isn't awful enough, they finally end up in our own food again.

Although the cigarette industry is looking at greener solutions for the production of cigarette filters and has been doing so for some time, smokers are being urged — both for the sake of nature as well as for public health — to consider whether it's really such a big effort to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly.

Read the original article on Business Insider Deutschland.

This post originally appeared on Business Insider Deutschland and has been translated from German.