COMMON SIGHT: Cigarette butts are one of the most common forms of rubbish collected on Coffs Harbour beaches.
COMMON SIGHT: Cigarette butts are one of the most common forms of rubbish collected on Coffs Harbour beaches. Janine Watson

Cigarettes a real pain in the butt

WHEN it comes to marine debris, cigarettes are a real pain in the butt.

A nation-wide marine debris database has shown that cigarette butts are one of the most common forms of rubbish collected on Coffs Harbour beaches.

Tangaroa Blue Foundation is an Australian-wide not-for-profit organisation dedicated to the removal and prevention of marine debris and they have established a national marine debris database. A network of volunteers, communities and organisations who conduct beach clean ups contribute their findings onto the database.

During Plastic Free July, Wally Smith from the Tangaroa Blue Foundation has outlined the top 10 most commonly collected forms of rubbish on local beaches since 2009 and cigarette butts top the list.

"They are a major hazard because the filters are made from thousands of plastic fibres. The butts break up quickly in water and the fibres become part of the micro plastic problem affecting our oceans and waterways," he said.

Plastic items feature heavily in the 'top 10' with number two listed as: 'plastic packaging food (wrap, packets, containers) and number three: 'plastic bits and pieces hard and solid'.

Plastic straws also make the list with 'straws, confection sticks, cups, plates and cutlery' listed as the eighth most common item collected on our beaches.

 

A balloon with plastic ties washed up on Boambee Beach.
A balloon with plastic ties washed up on Boambee Beach. Janine Watson

 

There are a number of events planned across the region for Plastic Free July including a Pop-up Plastic Free Festival at the Harbourside Markets on July 29 from 10am to 2pm featuring a toy swap, a repurposed plastics community art exhibition, jetty beach walk and clean-up and beeswax wrap demonstrations.



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