142,000 littered cigarette butts picked up in NL cleanup, awareness project
Dozens of volunteers came together in 18 Dutch municipalities on Saturday to pick up littered cigarette butts, both as a cleanup project and to raise awareness about this form of plastic litter. A total of 142 thousand cigarette butts were picked up during the course of one afternoon, the Plastic PeukMeuk movement, a collaboration of environmental organizations, companies and citizens, said in a press release.
In Amsterdam, 70 volunteers picked up some 56 thousand cigarette butts and used them to spell out the hashtag #nofilterplease on Dam Square. The 11 organizations in the Plastic PeukMeuk movement also wrote to State Secretary Stientje van Veldhoven of Infrastructure, asking her to intervene.
"In the discussion around plastic pollution, cigarette butts are hardy ever discussed, even though this is one of the most common forms of plastic pollution," said Karl Beerenfenger of By the Ocean we Unite. "Communication campaigns do not solve the issue. We must change the product itself. Cigarette filters only serve as a marketing tool to sell more cigarettes. We want to get rid of the plastic cigarette filter altogether."
The movement is calling on the government to ban cigarette filters that contain harmful plastics and chemical substances. To make sure producers are motivated to reduce the number of cigarette butts overall, the organizations also want them to be charged per butt.
Several organizations participated in the event, including By the Ocean we Unite, Plastic Soup Surfer, Save Your Butt, and Sea Going Green.