Toxic cigarette butts are one of the top ten pollutants on our beaches and entering the marine environment.
The plastic pipe industry is supporting solutions to far more than just South Africa’s water woes and failing water infrastructure. Thanks to a joint effort between DPI Plastics and Whale Coast Conservation, a low cost, yet practical solution has been developed to address the growing problem of discarded cigarette butts in the environment.
“Each year, we find that cigarette butts are one of the top 10 pollutants on our beaches and entering the marine environment. It is a very big problem – especially in high tourist areas such as Hermanus,” says John Kieser, Sustainability Manager at Plastics|SA and the annual coordinator of South Africa’s participation in the International Coastal Clean-Up Day.”
Whale Coast Conservation has run a cigarette monitoring project for four months in Hermanus of cigarette butt hotspots. Butt bottles were installed but often vandalized. Whale Coast Conservation staff innovated the improved butt bin which is strong, secure and lockable using the durable DPI PVC pipes and connectors. The bins will be installed in the Hermanus CBD area at smoking ‘hot spots’.
Butt bins along the Whale coast and Overstrand
To this end, DPI has donated 100 PVC pipes and connectors for use as cigarette bins by the Whale coast Conservation and the Overstrand municipality. The uptake and use of the bin will be further monitored by the Whale Coast Conservation project co-ordinator and will be paired with an education and awareness campaign.
“This initiative is a natural progression to our first initiative and pilot project aimed at finding a solution to the problem of discarded fishing lines that end up trapping marine life on our beaches. These bins have proven to be a huge success and the initiative has now been accepted by Ezemvelo Wildlife for roll-out along KwaZulu-Natal beaches,” says Martine Goodchild, Marketing Manager of DPI Plastics.
She explains that factory off-cuts of PVC pipes were found to be the ideal size and shape to make fishing line bins that were visible, easy to erect and maintain and offer outstanding resistance to corrosion and the elements.
The first cigarette bins will go up at beaches, restaurants, business offices and shopping centres, and will be administered and cleaned by Whale Coast Conservation staff initially in conjunction with the local municipality. The butt bins are locked, secure and tamper proof and offer a cheaper alternative to other commercially available cigarette butt bins.
All sales of the butt bin contribute to the funding of Whale Coast Conservation Environmental Education projects. SAPPMA Chief Executive Officer, Jan Venter, applauded this initiative and said that they challenge other pipe manufacturers to take up the baton and to follow DPI’s example by donating more pipes for the project.
“In keeping with our slogan, “Lifetime Quality”, SAPPMA members can contribute to raising public awareness about the negative impact that litter on our beaches has on marine life, water quality, and human welfare. By donating these pipes, we are doing something practical to reduce the amount of hazardous materials entering and remaining in the marine environment,” Venter said.
Concludes Kieser: “Cigarette butts lying around not only pose a threat to our marine environment, but are also aesthetically unappealing. Our sincere thanks to DPI for the donation and setting the pace in supporting environmental initiatives such as these. We want to make it socially unacceptable to litter and are optimistic that this pilot project will be a major step in the right direction”.