National push to keep waterways butt free

From 23 to 27 March, the annual Butt Free City campaign ran across 16 Australian cities to help educate the public about the environmental, social and economic impacts of butt littering.

During the week long campaign, Butt Free City Educators hit the streets to talk to people about the impacts of butt littering and, in return for a free pocket ashtray, asked them to make a pledge to ‘Please butt it, then bin it’®.

The campaign was run by participating city councils in partnership with the Butt Littering Trust. The Butt Littering Trust is an independent environmental organisation established to assist Local Government, businesses and the community manage the problem of butt littering.

“Our biggest challenge is that most people don’t make the connection between where they drop their butt and where it ends up,” said Executive Director of the Butt Littering Trust, Wendy Jones. “If dropped on the street, one in 10 times it ends up down the drain and in our waterways.

“The negative impact cigarette butts have on water quality and marine life is not known by most people, not to mention the huge costs associated with cleaning up the estimated seven billion butts littered in Australia every year.

“It costs local councils alone in the tens of millions of dollars.”

According to Wendy Jones, the need to manage cigarette butt litter has never been greater since the introduction of indoor smoking bans across Australia.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the problem has intensified, as has the need to educate people about butt litter and the need for more butt litter bins to help manage it,” she said. “Collectively, the 16 capital and major regional cities participating in Butt Free City worked to build upon the 21 per cent reduction in butt littering the campaign achieved in 2008.”

Avid surfer, beach lover and winner of the Australian television series ‘Make me a Supermodel’, Rhys Uhlich, threw his support behind this year’s campaign.

“The Butt Free City campaign is a great way to let people know about the impacts of butt litter, particularly on our beaches and waterways,” he said.

As part of the national media launch activities, a marine park diver was sent on a special mission to fish butts out of the Reef HQ aquarium in Townsville, while Rhys Uhlich visited St Kilda beach in Melbourne to highlight the impact littered butts can have on our waterways.

Melbourne Lord Mayor, Robert Doyle, also hit the streets to demonstrate that over 10,000 butts were collected in the CBD alone every single day.

Other cities involved in the Butt Free City campaign included Canberra, Adelaide, Port Adelaide Enfield, Brisbane, Darwin, Geelong, Gold Coast, Gosford, Hobart, Launceston, Mildura, Newcastle, Townsville and Wollongong.

The last day of the Butt Free City campaign, was ‘Butt litter? FINE!’ Day.

Council officers in participating cities enforced local litter laws by issuing fines to cigarette butt litterers.

Fines vary from State to State, ranging from $50 to $150 for an extinguished butt and up to $300 for a lit butt.

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