ANNUAL REPORT ON THE BIRDLIFE OVERBERG’S CLEANMARINE CAMPAIGN: PROJECT 2: CIGARETTE BUTT BINS ALONG THE OVERSTRAND COASTLINE
Posted on the 4th January 2019
Cigarette butts remain a huge worldwide problem when coastal litter is evaluated. This problem was very well illustrated through the vast numbers of cigarette butts that were collected during our monthly coastal cleanups – see report on these cleanups elsewhere. The extent of the problem becomes obvious when this brief feedback from one of our reports is considered: “Elaine and I enjoyed a glass of wine at the parking area and lookout point at Bitou Street in Vermont last Saturday afternoon and were shocked to see the vast amount of cigarette butts littering the area. We went there before returning home after the coastal cleanup today and shockingly picked up more than 300 cigarette butts in an area that can accommodate a maximum of six vehicles at one time. We have been talking about addressing this major problem several times in the past and will share our ideas on this as we go along. Excitingly ladies hiking along the coastal path stopped for a chat and volunteered to join us for future cleanups. Thankfully it seems as if the penny is dropping and we are looking forward to many more successes in 2019. Kindly join our efforts – it is very rewarding to see how we are gradually beginning to make a difference.”
It has become evident that plans to address the problem of cigarette butt pollution will have to be developed. The setting up of cigarette butt bins along our coastline is under investigation and consultations in this regard have been undertaken with Whale Coast Conservation, the the Environmental Management division of the Overstrand municipality and the Onrus Litter Ladies. The success of these bins is being debated at the moment and several alternatives are being investigated. The biggest single problem at this stage seems to be the vandalism of these bins.
It has become evident that alternative plans to address the problem of cigarette butt pollution will have to be developed. Discussions in this regard with Dr Mark Brown of the Nature’s Valley Trust have been initiated. Possible alternatives could include (1) Involving smokers into research to try to get to grips with this problem. (2) Creating more effective media exposure on the impact of butts on the environment and (3) Possibly getting a tobacco company such as BAT on board as a partner in view of the sponsorship of ongoing research.
As far as the first issue above is concerned it was recommended that in-depth interviews with smokers who do discard of their cigarette butts properly and ensure that these are not littered be undertaken. Such interviews could possibly give insights into behaviour patterns that could assist in addressing this problem. Research of this nature will however be qualitative in nature, time-consuming and expensive. It is not believed that such research should fall within the ambit of the CleanMarine campaign as we at BirdLife Overberg simply do not have the capacity to undertake it, unless large-scaled funding can be obtained. It is recommended that a decision in this regard be taken at the BirdLife Overberg AGM on 11 February 2019.
Cigarette butt bins developed by Whale Coast Conservation
Cigarette butt bins set up by the Onrus Litter Ladies
The extent of the problem is well illustrated by these butts collected on Muizenberg beach within two hours