Yuk! – even our wildlife is killed by cigarette butts

Yuk! – even our wildlife is killed by cigarette butts

A giant sign spelling out the word ‘yuk’ using thousands of used cigarette butts has been installed in Hyde Park to remind smokers of the pollution their discarded butts can cause.

The two by five metre hollow perspex sign contains a small fraction of the estimated 500,000 butts thrown on city streets, footpaths and gutters every month.

“Every day our cleansing crews sweep up around 15,000 butts from the streets and footpaths,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“Many thousands more are washed into our harbour and waterways where they do serious environmental damage.”

“Discarded butts leach toxic elements such as cadmium, lead and arsenic into water and soil as they decompose.”

Surveys show many smokers think their butts are small and insignificant so it doesn’t matter if they drop them on the ground. This campaign is a reminder that people need to take responsibility and dispose of their cigarette butts properly in ashtrays or rubbish bins.

The ‘yuk’ sign was installed yesterday in Hyde Park, near the corner of Liverpool and College streets, and will stay there for two weeks.

All of the City’s 480 rubbish bins in the city centre have ashtrays and the City has given out more than 200 wall-mounted ashtrays for building owners to install where smokers gather.

City cleansing and waste trucks are being emblazoned with signs pointing out that butts, chewing gum and illegal dumping are three of the biggest challenges in keeping the city clean.

City Rangers will begin a ‘butt blitz’ next week, targeting smoking hotspots around the city warning people about the damage butts can do and reminding them they can be fined for littering.

An estimated 7.2 billion cigarettes become litter each year in Australia. Every year butts top the list of items picked up by volunteers taking part in the International Coastal Cleanup organised by the Ocean Conservancy group.

The City receives regular complaints from the community about cigarette butts littering the streets and public places. Fines for littering range from $60 for an extinguished butt to $200 for one that is still alight.

For more information, contact City of Sydney Senior Media Adviser Rohan Sullivan, phone 02 9246 7298 or 0414 617 086, or email rsullivan@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Jonathon Larkin on 0477 310 149 or jlarkin@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au