Big cost of butt litter
It may be small but giving just one cigarette butt the flick in the wrong place can get you a $75 littering fine.
According to the 2010—11 National Litter Index report released this week, cigarette butts are the most littered item in Western Australia.
It is estimated that about seven billion cigarette butts are discarded across Australia every year creating 40,000 cubic metres of waste costing the community $50 million to clean up.
Cigarette butt littering includes flicking lit or unlit cigarettes from a vehicle, stubbing out and flicking butts on to public areas such as footpaths and roads, stubbing butts out and leaving them in gardens, flicking butts into bushland and median strips.
Cigarette butts can take up to 20 years to break down and contain over 4000 toxic chemicals that leach into the environment and impact on sensitive aquatic ecosystems.
They can also be mistaken for food by animals with sometimes devastating results.
Department of Environment and Conservation education and interpretation officer Libby Hoskin said there are presently over 30 registered litter reporters in the Shire of Roebourne.
“The Litter Reporters scheme is run by Keep Australia Beautiful and anyone in a community can register to be a reporter,” she said,
“In an effort to reduce cigarette butt littering, and general littering, the Karratha CARE (Communities Against Rubbishing the Environment) group is encouraging members of the community to register as a reporter. It can be done easily and simply by registering online.
“While cigarette butts are small, they are a major source of litter problems in the community and in DEC’s National Parks.
“Discarded butts affect wildlife and can start fires if not disposed of properly.
“Please think twice about what you do with your butts or consider carrying a disposable butt container in your bag” People who want to take action against litter bugs can join Keep Australia Beautiful’s (KAB) litter report program. KAB has more than 5500 people all over the State reporting litterers who can face a fine if they are spotted dumping litter from a vehicle.
To register to become a litter reporter visit www.kabc.wa.gov.au or phone 6467 5138 for more information.
Keep Australia Beautiful (WA) is supported by the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC). This project is supported by the Western Australian Waste Authority through the Landfill Levy Fund.