What do 25,000 cigarette butts look like?

Pictured here: Acting Mayor Marianne Alto; Mike Redpath, owner of Coastline Surf Shop, location of the first canister; and Gillian Montgomery, Chair of the Surfrider Foundation.

The City of Victoria, Downtown Victoria Business Association and Surfrider Foundation celebrated a goal today of 20 cigarette disposal canisters installed downtown. This program has taken 25,000 butts off our streets and away from our stormdrains that would take them out to our beaches and oceans. The waste is then recycled into plastic pellets by TerraCycle and Progressive Waste Solutions.

In late April 2014, Surfrider Foundation, the Downtown Victoria Business Association and the City of Victoria announced they were teaming up for a pilot program to keep cigarette butts off our streets, out of the stormwater system and off beaches by installing easily identifiable cigarette disposal canisters in downtown Victoria, offering the public a responsible cigarette disposal option.

Photo from City of Victoria – Local Government Facebook

Cigarette butts make up a large percentage of litter on city streets.  Having cleaner streets is the most direct goal of this program, but the beaches will also benefit.  The journey of cigarette butts from the streets, through the stormwater system and out to Victoria’s beaches isn’t top of mind for many people, but when the butts are blown or flushed into the over 5,700 catchbasins and storm drains throughout Victoria, the shoreline is where they end up.  Beyond littering the beaches, the toxins in cigarettes leach out when wet and pose a threat to marine life.

The Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA) and the City of Victoria are sponsoring the purchase of the canisters and the DVBA’s Clean Team empty the canisters as part of their daily rounds throughout the downtown.  This pilot program has been led by members of the Vancouver Island chapter of the Surfrider Foundation. They saw the cigarette butt receptacles in use while attending a Surfrider conference in California and were inspired by how the simple program kept cigarette butts contained and off urban streets and beaches.

For more information visit: http://vancouverisland.surfrider.org

For information about other City of Victoria downtown beautification programs, click here.

 

 

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