Cigarette butts full of plastic

Every year, billions of cigarette butts end up in nature in such quantities that they have reached the number one spot on the top-10 list of waste thrown out in nature. Contrary to what many smokers might think, the butts do not disintegrate quickly.

The cigarette filters contain small fibers, consisting of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that takes several years to decompose. No one can say for sure what the consequences are for humans and animals, as very little research has been done on micro plastics in nature. Therefore, knowledge of the exact impact that cigarette butts have on the environment is limited.

However, we know that plastic does not break down biologically, and that it can have both physical and chemical effects on animals. For example: micro plastic fibers can be absorbed by seafood, fish and small organisms, which means that they may also find their way to humans through the food chain.

For years, cigarette butts have topped the list of waste found in nature – according to the annual report from Ocean Conservancy & International Coastal Cleanup. Through Plastic Change’s own observations in Denmark, cigarette butts are at the top. 
Plastics are bad for the environment, and therefore we must avoid it ending up in nature, and ultimately in our food chain. In regard to cigarette butts, the solution is simple: put them in the bin.


  1. Cigarette butts
  2. Food paper
  3. Plastic bottles
  4. Screw caps
  5. Plastic bags from supermarkets
  6. Other plastic bags
  7. Straws
  8. Take away plastic containers
  9. Plastic lids
  10. Take away Styrofoam containers

Source: Ocean Conservancy & International Coastal Cleanups report, 2018