The Town of Cobourg partners with A Greener Future on Tuesday, July 4, 2023 to cleanup litter along with a Butt Blitz in Victoria Park.
Volunteers were welcomed and provided with all supplies and equipment to pick up litter and cigarette butts.
Since 2016 A Greener Future has run the Love Your Lakes program to help cleanup waste found along the shore of Lake Ontario. With the help of volunteers, 690,000 pieces of litter have been removed from green space and waterways.
Cigarette butts are the most-littered item in the world. About two-thirds of the six trillion cigarettes smoked each year end up in the environment.
Cigarette butts contain a plastic filter and the remnants of a smoked cigarette. The white filters that look like white cotton are cellulose acetate which breaks into microplastic fibers. Cellulose acetate is difficult to degrade in the environment. Depending on where the cigarette butt is discarded, they take around 18 months to 10 years to break down, but they will not decompose naturally.
When these butts end up in water, they release nicotine, arsenic, tar, and even heavy metals. One littered cigarette butt can contaminate 1,000 litres of water!
Unfortunately, due to their size, cigarette butts are often missed during public cleanup events and municipal staff efforts and end up buried in sand, leaves, or wedged in cracks in the pavement.
On Tuesday there were 12 volunteers (including 5 Town of Cobourg staff members!) taking part in the cleanup efforts. Within two hours they collected and removed a total of 6,746 pieces of litter from the environment.
The top five items removed were:
. 4,060 cigarette butts
. 1,157 food wrappers
. 452 plastic pieces
. 412 paper pieces
. 112 hygiene items