Cigarette butts accounted for 37% of litter items removed from City of Port Phillip beaches on Clean Up Australia Day 2011 by the Port Phillip Clean Beaches Coalition. Apart from the fact that ciggie filters don’t biodegrade and are laced with a range of toxic substances, these little suckers are so small they scoot straight through most litter traps!
In search of a positive solution, Baykeeper has teamed with Ormond College (Melbourne Uni) students and the City of Port Phillip’s Community Pulse program to better understand where the butts come from. The team has conducted 4, fortnightly surveys so far, collecting butts from a 500m section of Blessington Street, St Kilda; the car park at St Kilda Marina Reserve; and, the 120m St Kilda South Beach.
A total of 11,857 butts have been collected. The team has recorded where each butt was found. As there has been relatively low rainfall over the survey period, only around 10% have been found on the beach. 8% were in the Marina Reserve carpark; 35% in front of businesses and the rest near residences and parks.
Understanding where the hotspots are provides a basis for positive solutions to the issue. The next steps include talking to local government, residents, traders and smokers to explore how they can be part of the solution. Baykeeper welcomes anyone interested in joining the butt safari team, or forming their own team to survey other areas.