Toronto has long had a reputation of being a clean city and residents, business owners and City of Toronto staff all work hard to keep it that way. Every spring however, as the snow melts, hidden items like napkins, candy wrappers, gum and cigarette butts are revealed. Over the last few years, the amount of litter has been increasing and even small items, especially cigarette butts, are causing some big problems. Here’s how:
There’s a misconception that cigarette butts are made from cotton or paper and are therefore biodegradable, however most cigarette filters are actually made from cellulose acetate, which is a type of plastic. These synthetic filters, which absorb toxins, take years to break down and can end up in our waterways, causing harm to the environment.
ANIMALS COULD EAT THEM
It is common for animals such as dogs to eat foreign objects they find on the ground. Small litter items or items that break down into small pieces, like micro-plastics, can end up being eaten by wild animals and pets and may have harmful effects on their health. Litter that ends up in our lake could also be eaten by fish and birds.
DIFFICULT TO CLEAN
Small litter items can be hard to clean. Gum sticks to the ground and cigarette butts fall in sidewalk cracks and get lost
under sand in beaches. This makes them very labour intensive to clean up. If these items weren’t carelessly discarded, the City could save millions of dollars a year.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
There are about 9,400 litter/recycling street bins across the city, and 10,000 recycling bins and garbage bins in City of Toronto parks. The best thing you can do is dispose of your waste properly (no matter how small the item is). Street litter bins actually have a special receptacle for cigarette butts.
It is everyone’s responsibility to keep Toronto clean. Toronto residents, visitors, businesses and government organizations must each do their part to keep our city healthy and beautiful.