Help Jason pick up 1 million cigarette butts to highlight the dangers of flicking cigarette butts on the ground.

It’s easy to take part…


Grab a bucket/bag, gloves and litter picker and collect as many cigarette butts as you can.

Then count them. If you don’t want to count every single one we’ll provide a couple of guides on how to accurately estimate quantity.


Take a photo and share with @UKrubbishwalks on social media using the hashtag #BlitzTheButt.

Place the number of butts you collected in brackets after the hashtag and your location.

Like this…

@UKrubbishwalks #BlitzTheButt (3478) Ipswich


Gather all the cigarette butts you collect and dispose of them in your general waste or recycle them in the most appropriate manner.

Check out the latest information on recycling below.


Updated 17/10/19

In theory cigarette butts can be recycled but it isn’t quite as simple as that at the moment. There is currently no local infrastructure to recycle cigarette waste. A recycling company called TerraCycle used to offer two solutions to recycle cigarette waste.

The first solution was their FREE cigarette butt recycling programme. Unfortunately as of 31st October 2019 this free programme is no longer available as JTI (Japan Tobacco International), who helped finance this initiative, withdrew their funding.

The only remaining solution is part of Terracycle’s paid for Zero Waste Box Services.

A Zero Waste Box provides solutions for difficult-to-recycle waste that cannot be recycled through regular municipal recycling. A small Cigarette Waste Zero Waste Box for cigarette waste that holds approx. 5,300 cigarette butts (a bit less than a standard builder’s bucket) costs £128.35.

The collected waste will be shredded and separated. The plastic (such as the cigarette filters) will undergo pelletisation and extrusion to be moulded into various recycled plastic products. The paper will be recycled and the tobacco and other organics will be composted.

When I chat to people about Terracycle I’m regularly asked “Why is there a cost associated with recycling through their Zero Waste services, particularly cigarette butts?” I always refer to this interesting and informative blog article from the Terracycle blog. Well worth a read:

For further information on the free recycling programmes and the Zero Waste Box services, please contact TerraCycle directly, either on their free phone number: 0800 0470 984 or email them at:

We find this situation extremely frustrating. It seems unbelievable that the UK has no infrastructure in place to effectively deal with the most common form of litter on the planet.

One of our key missions is to continue to highlight this issue and call for tobacco companies to step up and take responsibility for the waste generated by their product and help fund a national clean up and recycling programme. If the tobacco industry fails to do this voluntarily we will lobby government to introduce legislation forcing the tobacco industry to pay.

We are not naive to the fact that this will be an uphill struggle. The tobacco industry is powerful and holds considerable influence over politicians. The tax revenue generated by the sale of cigarettes equates to billions of pounds for the governments coffers. They won’t want to jeopardise that.

BUT there comes a time when you have to ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’. We think that time is NOW.

So, there are currently only two choices for what to do with collected cigarette butts. 1) You could store your collected cigarette butts in sealed containers in the hope that new cigarette waste programmes become available in the future. 2) You could dispose of the cigarette butts in your general waste.

Whatever option is most appropriate for you it’s important to remember that every one of those cigarette butts collected are no longer littering your neighbourhood, are no longer leaching chemicals into the environment and are no longer going to find their way into our rivers and oceans.





Number of cigarette butts collected so far...




Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter on the planet. You are never more than a few paces away from a handful of discarded butts. Trillions are dropped every single year in our cities, towns, villages and countryside. Wherever you find people you will find cigarette butts. Lots of them.

Broken Window Theory suggests that if an area is seen to be covered in litter then this will highly likely lead to more littering. This is especially true for cigarette butts. If smokers see an area is covered in discarded cigarette butts – outside entrances to buildings, by seating areas, at pedestrian crossings, car parks etc. – then they are more likely to throw their cigarette butts on the ground too. This issue increases when there is no clear bin provided and ineffective signage is used.

If there is also seen to be a lack of enforcement in an area (dropping cigarette butts is a littering offence and can lead to fines of £80 or more) then smokers feel there will be no consequences for dropping their cigarette butts. They’ll get away with it.

We need to find a way to nudge smokers to ‘do the right thing’.



Cigarette filters are made from a form of plastic called cellulose acetate. It is suggested that there are 4.5 trillion cigarette butts dropped in the environment every single year. This is a hard figure to verify but it’s safe to say that the figure is in the trillions.

That’s a staggering amount and a difficult number to visualise. Consider this… that’s way more stars than there are in our galaxy and if you were to lay every cigarette butt dropped in a year end to end they would stretch to the moon and back more than 150 times!

Now consider that a cigarette butt can take 10 years or more to break down. That means that there are likely 30+ trillion cigarette butts in the environment right this second. All potentially breaking up into smaller and smaller pieces.

Polluting our rivers and oceans. Killing wildlife and vegetation. Entering the food chain and therefore impacting the health of smokers and non smokers alike.



Cigarette butts are not only made of plastic, they are also filled with toxic chemicals. Over 6,000 of them. 50+ have been proven to be carcinogenic to humans and many more are deadly to wildlife.

It’s suggested that the chemicals found in just one cigarette butt can leach out and contaminate approximately 7.5 liters of water within one hour. This contaminated water is lethal to aquatic life.


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