Cigarette butts don’t biodegrade

A cigarette butt is a used filter.

Most filters are composed of cellulose acetate, a microfiber plastic that is slow to degrade and will never decompose. Invisible ultraviolet light (UV rays) from the sun will eventually break cigarette butts into smaller pieces, but the material never decomposes.

Bin them, don’t flick them!


One of the main reasons people litter cigarette butts is because “everyone does it” So, DON’T DO IT! Littering has huge repercussions according to the partners of "BUTT_FREE Beach" for Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. Butts on the ground, wash into storm drains and can eventually end up in the lake.

Cigarette Butt Wasaga Beach

Properly disposing your cigarette butts is easy.

Cigarette Butt Wasaga Beach

At Wasaga Beach 5 (and other participating beaches ), find these tools that make it easier to dispose of your butts:

1. Look for these ashtrays (pictured) at participating beaches.

2. Empty the ashtray into this receptacle. These cigarette butts will be recycled by TerraCycle.

* If you can't find these tools, the important thing to remember is not to leave your BUTTS on the beach. Or anywhere on the ground. Create your own receptacle out of items such as a coffee tin or pop can and then dispose of them properly afterwards. The beach is not an ashtray!

BUTT... is there more I can do?

Thanks for caring! Your beaches from Wasaga Beach to the world, need to be cigarette BUTT-FREE. Here are some ways you can help beaches:

Thank you to these references and sources
  • Alexander, Karen. 2015 Butt Free Beach (Program backgrounder). Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation
  • Bejtic, Narcis. Environmental Network’s Application for the Great Lakes Guardian Fund 2017. Environment Network
  • Booth, David J. and Gribben, Paul and Parkinson, Kerryn. Impact of cigarette butt leachate on tidepool snails . Marine Pollution Bulletin 95 (2015) 362–364. Volume 95, Issue 1, 15 June 2015, Pages 362–364. Retrieved from ScienceDirect at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0025326X15001927
  • Environmental Defence Butt Free sign. “Keep your butts off the beach.”http://environmentaldefence.ca/
  • Lee, Wenjau and Lee, Chin Chun. Developmental toxicity of cigarette butts – An underdeveloped issue. Ecotoxicology andEnvironmentalSafety113(2015)362–368. Volume 113, March 2015, Pages 362-368. Retrieved from ScienceDirect at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0147651314005739
  • Novotny, Thomas E. and Lum, Kristen and Smith, Elizabeth and Wang, Vivian and Barnes, Richard. Cigarettes Butts and the Case for an Environmental Policy on Hazardous Cigarette Waste. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health ISSN 1660-4601. Retrieved from http://www.mdpi.com/journal/ijerph
  • Slaughter, Elli and Gersberg, Richard M and Watanabe, Kayo and Rudolph, John and Stransky, Chris and Novotny, Thoma E. Toxicity of cigarette butts, and their chemical components, to marine and freshwaterfish. Source: Tobacco Control, Vol. 20, Supplement 1: The Environmental Burden of CigaretteButts (May 2011), pp. i25-i29. Published by: BMJ. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/41320123
  • The Tourism Company in association with IBI Group. Wasaga Beach Tourism Strategy. November 2017.
  • 2017 partners

    Brian Nabuurs. Making a difference!

    Brian Nabuurs

    Brian has volunteered dozens of hours to reduce litter on Wasaga Beach. Thanks Brian for your inspiring volunteerism to help our communities and the environment! Join Brian in helping to make beaches BUTT-FREE!

    "This has been a very positive experience from the very beginning. My inspiration originally came from Karen Alexander at LHCC (Lake Huron Centre for Coastal Conservation). I thought it truly needed to be in Wasaga. I felt that if we wanted more people to take part in the initiative, it needed to be on a grander stage. Wasaga Beach is the perfect spring board to bring national attention to the issue and develop a template for this initiative for each community to duplicate."