Clean-up campaign: Volunteers pick up more than 600,000 cigarette butts

During the international clean-up campaign “Cigarette Butt Cleanup Day”, volunteers collected more than 600,000 cigarette butts on Saturday. The fifth edition of the clean-up action was the largest to date, the organization said. Thousands of people took to the streets in more than 70 municipalities in the Netherlands and more than 13 countries.

The joint collection is an action of the so-called Plastic Peuken Collectief, which also calls for an international ban on plastic cigarette filters. According to the organization, research shows that a ban on cigarette filters is the only effective measure to get butts out of the environment.

That is why the collective has called on the government in the past to take the necessary steps to ban cigarette filters so that in the long run this problem will no longer arise. One step has already been taken in recent years, as the Dutch government wants to introduce a European ban on cigarette filters, Rheden Nieuws reported.

“It’s fantastic how many cigarette butts have been collected,” said Bernadette Hakken, organizer of PeukMeuk. “But when you consider that despite all the efforts in the Netherlands, billions of cigarette butts are left in the environment and the number of cigarette butts that are picked up the next week are thrown back into the street, you only realize how big the problem is.”

About 10 billion cigarettes are sold in the Netherlands each year. “It’s estimated that two out of three plastic filters are thrown on the ground or into the waterways. They may be small, but they are far from harmless. Almost all cigarette filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic that dissolves into environmentally harmful microplastics. In addition, large quantities of toxic substances escape from a cigarette butt, polluting the soil and waterways,” the organization said.

Reporting by ANP and NL Times

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