Many people still mistakenly believe cigarette butts are biodegradable and that discarding them in the natural environment does not cause any damage, World Cleanup Day director Elike Saviorg says.
Speaking to ETV morning show "Terevisioon" Friday, ahead of Saturday's World Cleanup Day 2022, which will see 191 states and territories worldwide taking part, Saviorg said: "The paper around the cigarette may breaks, but the filter contains tens of thousands of fine fibers, which then start to break down into microplastics. This can be especially bad when the butt gets into a body of water, because fish may consume it, after which it gets into the food chain."
World Cleanup Day this year, in Estonia at least, focuses on coastal areas and shorelines along inland bodies of water, which would have attracted plenty of visitors, some of them smokers, this year, thanks to the warm summer.
World Cleanup Day had not specifically focused on the beach environment before, either, Saviorg noted.
In addition to cigarette butts, bottle tops and lollipop sticks are also common types of refuse to be found, unfortunately.
Ironically, some of the worst hit parts of a beach, so far as cigarette butts go, are around benches, which even have trash cans or ashtrays nearby.
As to other countries taking part, which area of concern is to be focused on is down to organizers in that country, Saviorg said.
World Cleanup Day was originally called "Teeme ära!" ("Let's do it") when it started in Estonia, over a decade ago. Since then it has grown into a global phenomenon.
Editor: Andrew Whyte