The World’s Most Littered Item Comes Under Fire

Smokers’ habit of tossing cigarette butts on the ground sparks concerns about single-use plastic

Wall Street Journal
July 31, 2019
By Saabira Chaudhuri

Cigarette butts, the most littered items in the world, are posing an intractable trash problem for regulators and tobacco companies: Throwing them on the ground is a firmly entrenched habit for many smokers.

Regulators are taking a tougher stance on cigarette filter pollution amid concerns about the environmental impact of single-use plastic. Butts for decades have been made from cellulose acetate, a form of plastic, which takes years to break down. Studies show that butts—which often wash from sidewalks into drains and then waterways—can be toxic to fish.

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