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Down to Earth

Cigarette butts: The world's most littered item


With just one flick of a finger, trillions of cigarette butts are thrown into the environment every year. But how exactly do they pollute and at what rate? We find out more.


It's estimated that approximately 75 percent of cigarettes purchased end up on the ground and not in a garbage can. Although the filter may look like cotton and paper, it's actually made of a type of plastic called cellulose acetate that breaks down into microplastic. Cigarettes also contain more than 4,000 chemical substances, which can make their way into waterways and the ocean.

This week on Down to Earth, we meet activists who have made it their mission to educate smokers, and we visit France's only recycling plant for cigarette butts.


Many thanks to the team of Wephare for their participation to this show. 

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