No, Plastic Straws Are Not The Worst Ocean Contaminant, Cigarette Butts Are

While we have all heard the recent push to eliminate plastic straws from popular use, the cigarette butt has largely lost in the shuffle despite being the biggest ocean contaminant.

Plastic waste, especially in our world’s oceans has increasingly become a widespread issue. Several international companies, including Starbucks, McDonald’s, hotel chains Marriott and Hyatt, and the city of Seattle have all set plans in place to ban plastic straw use.

According to the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, 5.5 trillion cigarettes are consumed every year, with 90% of them containing a plastic-based cigarette filter. Cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate, an artificial fiber that takes decades to break down. NBC News reports that two-thirds of those filters are dumped, many of which make their way to oceans and beaches.

Cigarette filters were deployed in the mid-1900s as a marketing campaign by tobacco companies to lessen the growing concern over cigarette smoke hazards. However, they’ve been shown to be solely marketing tools, not causing a reduction in toxic chemicals from tobacco tar. Filtered cigarettes are no safer than unfiltered cigarettes. While the implementation of filters worked as a marketing campaign, they introduced a tremendous amount of waste with no added health benefits.

By and full article can be read at Forbes

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