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Vancouver, Victoria shorelines littered with cigarette butts, researchers

Last Updated Aug 2, 2018 at 2:39 pm PST

(iStock Photo)

VICTORIA – A study analyzing data from volunteer shoreline cleanups in British Columbia says cigarettes and filters from them account for almost 50 per cent of the waste collected in Vancouver and Victoria.

University of British Columbia researchers say the findings could help guide future waste management strategies, especially when it comes to reducing plastic pollution.

Study co-author Cassandra Konecny, a zoology master’s student, says cigarette filters are made of plastic and when butts are dropped on the street they move from drainage systems to the ocean and shorelines.

She says the researchers examined data from 1,226 voluntary cleanup initiatives organized as Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup events.

Konecny says 80 to 90 per cent of the waste collected at the B.C. events was some form of plastic, but while the types of plastic varied at different geographical locations, almost half the litter collected in the Vancouver and Victoria area was from cigarettes.

She says campaigns to ban single-use plastic straws are gaining attention but the shoreline waste study signals cigarette litter is also an area in need of focus.