between city & ocean

Cigarette butts, as well as electronic cigarette waste, are a pervasive form of pollution that poses a serious threat to the health of our oceans and the wildlife that depend on them. As these small fragments are often carelessly discarded in cities, they can easily make their way into the water system via stormwater runoff, ultimately ending up in the oceans where they can cause significant harm. Once in the water, cigarette butts release toxic chemicals that are lethal to marine life, destroying oceanic environments before breaking down into microplastics.

Composed of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that can take up to a decade to degrade, cigarette butts are not biodegradable. They also contain heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and arsenic, which are extremely toxic. Marine mammals can mistake cigarette butts for food, leading to gastrointestinal blockages, malnutrition, and death. Furthermore, these small plastic pieces can accumulate on the seabed, altering the balance of entire ecosystems, damaging aquatic biomes, and reducing biodiversity.

The impact of cigarette butt pollution extends to human health. When marine species ingest cigarette butts, they become contaminated with toxic heavy metals. These pollutants can then be transmitted to humans who consume seafood as part of their diet, resulting in serious health problems, including cancer and reproductive issues.

In summary, it is imperative that cities take concrete steps to address the deleterious effects of cigarette butt litter, both on the environment and human health. This can be achieved through the implementation of effective waste management practices, education campaigns, and strict enforcement of littering laws. As such, our initiative, Bin Your Butts Leuven, plays a vital role in promoting environmental sustainability and protecting our planet for future generations. Join us today and take part in this important mission.


Ocean Conservancy. (2020). International Coastal Cleanup Report. Retrieved from

Parker, L. A., O'Connell, M. E., & Russell, B. (2018). Cigarette butts on campus: a comprehensive approach to addressing tobacco litter. Tobacco Control, 27(3), 301-306.

Praveena, S. M., Srikumar, S., Ahmad, M., & Aris, A. Z. (2017). Heavy metals and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in marine organisms from the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 121(1-2), 307-312.


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