Reducing cigarette butt litter

The EPA is developing a Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program to reduce cigarette littering behaviour and butt litter.

Why tackle cigarette butt litter?

The National Litter Index shows that cigarette butts are consistently the most-littered item in NSW. Cigarette butts are unsightly, toxic and harmful to the environment. They are easily carried in stormwater runoff through drainage systems and eventually to local streams, rivers, and waterways. Cigarette filters contain cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that does not readily biodegrade and can persist in the environment.

Resources available

The EPA has developed the 'Butt litter check' tool to help understand why smokers may be littering cigarette butts and how you can use the results to develop targeted ways to stop this behaviour. The tool was adapted from the 'Local litter check', and targets cigarette-butt littering behaviour.

The Butt litter check tool contains the following

    • how to do a butt litter check
    • location inspection form
    • litter count form
    • observation form
    • location user survey

Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program

The EPA is developing a Cigarette Butt Litter Reduction Program to reduce cigarette littering behaviour and butt litter.

Extensive research has been completed to understand smokers’ behaviour, attitudes, and knowledge towards cigarette butt disposal. This includes understanding the benefits of and barriers to breaking habits and adopting appropriate butt disposal actions.

This research will help to guide interventions and strategies to influence smokers’ disposal behaviour, which will then be tested in a variety of site types and locations via several trials, to determine the most effective strategies to reduce cigarette butt litter.

Program approach

  1. Desktop research of relevant studies into cigarette butt litter
  2. Development of a community based assessment tool
  3. Quantitative research and baseline study
  4. Qualitative research
  5. Trial intervention strategies – scheduled for early 2018
  6. Analysis of strategy, and program development

Cigarette butt litter research reports

The following is EPA-led research into cigarette butt litter and littering behaviour.

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