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Cig filters are No. 1 plastic pollutant

28 Jan 2019. About 6 trillion cigarettes are produced every year, of which more than 90 per cent contain plastic filters. These plastic filters are the most littered item in the world, CNN reported.

According to the World Health Organization, tossing a cigarette butt on the ground is one of the most accepted forms of pollution. About two-thirds of the butts are dumped irresponsibly: stubbed out on sidewalks or thrown into gutters, from where they are carried via storm drains to rivers and oceans, says CNN. Cigarette butts have been the number one item collected by the Ocean Conservancy's global beach clean-ups every year. Volunteers have collected more than 60 million cigarette butts. "Many smokers assume the filters are made of a biodegradable material," Elizabeth Smith, who works on tobacco control policy at the University of California San Francisco, was quoted as saying. In fact, filters are made of cellulose acetate. This is a type of plastic that can take up to a decade to decompose, according to the report.


In October 2018, the European Parliament supported a radical proposal to oblige EU countries to remove 50 per cent plastic from cigarette filters by 2025 and 80 per cent by 2030. EU country representatives later refused these reduction targets though. Instead, it has been proposed that tobacco companies will be made responsible for financing awareness campaigns, providing public ashtrays and waste collection, and will have to add labels on packs of filtered cigarettes which show that it contains environmentally harmful plastics, CNN reports.