The world throws trillions of cigarette butts into the environment every year. These cigarette litters are everywhere, scattered along with green spaces, sidewalks, roadsides, beaches, and waterways. If you see cigarette filters on Australia’s streets, remember that you see some parts of the 7 billion littered every year in the country.

Despite the harmful effects on the human body, there are still millions of chain smokers around the world. They mainly inhale the addictive scent of nicotine and just carelessly toss the filters behind them. Even when the smoking rate goes down, cigarette butts are still the most littered item on earth. 

The cigarette butts are composed of a plastic called cellulose acetate. When thrown into the environment, they dump not only that plastic, but also the nicotine, heavy metals, and other chemicals absorbed into the environment. With its toxicity, the common effects on the environment are the contamination of water and fish and other marine species being poisoned.

Moreover, what does all that cigarette waste mean for the environment and to human health? Here are basic facts that will make you think twice of leaving a trail of cigarette butts on the streets or in a corner.

How Toxic are Cigarette Litters?

Most cigarette butts or filters are made of fibrous material called cellulose acetates, a kind of plastic that is thin that are tightly packed to form a filter. The filter ‘s purpose is to trap toxic substances off the cigarette before it reaches the smoker’s lung. 

For example, the usage of material asbestos is to make filters in 1950, but it was later discovered that it is  more harmful than unfiltered cigarettes. Each butt contains the tobacco, ink, and filter residues. The waste in the butts contains toxic chemicals and solubles. Such chemicals can have a deadly impact on the environment and to humans.

Cigarette Litters Alarming Statistics

If you think cigarette filters are just tiny pieces you can throw anywhere, think twice. Each year, about 4.5 trillion cigarettes were littered worldwide, so if you’re one of the contributors, consider first the latter before dropping your cigarette filters on the streets.

About 20 million cigarette butts are littered daily in Australia, totalling 7 billion per annum. If placed end to end, they would extend 144,000 kilometres and circle the planet 3.6 times. Moreover, 6 out of 10 Australian smokers are reported to litter their cigarette butts outdoors.

Cigarette Litters Harming Environment and Humans

Cigarette butts are a growing source of pollution. It is estimated that around 1 in 10 cigarette butts enter the aquatic environment after being transported from stormwater drains, beaches to streams and waterways.

After only an hour of contact with water, cigarette butts leach nicotine, lead, cadmium and heavy metals before becoming an ocean-contaminating microplastic waste that threatens the marine ecosystem. Animals often mistake the cigarette butts for food. They have been found to be in the stomachs of the fishes, birds, sea turtles and other marine creatures.

The effects of cigarette filters are alarming not only for marine animals but also for humans. When people eat seafood compromised by cigarette filters turning to microplastics, we mainly consume plastics. Exposure to plastics is believed to cause health problems such as infertility, asthma and even cancer.

Aside from the effects mentioned, the presence of cigarette butts in soil reduces the germination success and shoot length of plants according to the new study published in the journal Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety. In a field full of grasses where cigarette butts are being commonly tossed, germination success of grasses is reduced by 10 per cent and shoot length by 13 per cent. This effect on the soil and plants is adding to the hazards that the tiny cigarette butts produce to harm the environment.

On the other hand, carelessly discarded cigarette butts in Australia are a frequent cause of fires — specifically bush fires. In fact, over 4,500 fires a year are caused by cigarettes and smokers’ materials. That is why fines in Australia have to be implemented under the Litter Act 1979 for the incorrect disposal of your cigarette butts. This is applied to reduce the likelihood of destructive bushfires to happen, and smokers would responsibly dispose of their cigarette butts.


Cigarette butts are light and small. They can be quickly blown from different areas finding its way into the ocean. With its staggering number littered everywhere, it threatens marine life and even affects humans. That is why action must be done to prevent a future consequence from happening. 

Waste issues will be manageable at Paul’s Rubbish Removal since it is the team’s responsibility to make every homeowner’s area in Australia safer and cleaner to live. With us, we will properly dispose of your rubbish not allowing any cigarette butt to drop into the streets. For more information on our rubbish collection services, call us on 0407 125 125 or send us an email at

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    Excellent service, quote given on the spot for major clean-up of household throw-outs. The team provides quick, efficient and courteous removal! Very satisfied customer.
    Les Thompson - Bondi
    You guys are great, I’ll happily recommend you. I just wished I had found you sooner. I felt your price was a little too low when you quoted… so I didn’t think you would do such a good job… well done for proving me wrong.
    Sheryl D - Maroubra
    Paul, sensational job as always, love how easy you make it look. Definitely won’t hesitate in calling you again should either my family or friends need rubbish removed. Thanks again!
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