I know: you think about the pollution of the sea and the first thing that comes to mind is plastic or oil. And you are right. But you may be surprised to learn that the most polluting element in the oceans is a simple (or not so simple) cigarette butt
With the frequency with which we receive news about the need to recycle plastic and its effects on the seas and marine life, it would be sensible to think that plastic is the most polluting item, but cigarette butts, despite their size, are much worse.
About half of the cigarette butts produced annually are made of this material.
The problem of cigarette butts is mainly caused by ignorance and lack of awareness. We hear a lot about plastic but almost nothing about other forms of pollution.
While plastic takes 10 to 1000 years to completely disintegrate depending on whether it is a bag, bottle or some other item, cigarette butts, often made of cellulose acetate, take about 10 years, but their components act faster.
In addition, cigarette butts, which act as a filter so that some of the toxic substances contained in cigarettes do not enter the lungs, are full of these poisons, which end up on the land or in the ocean.
A single cigarette butt contaminates between 8 and 10 liters of seawater.
According to the environmental organization Ocean Conservacy, in the last 32 years, 60 million cigarette butts were found on beaches, and it is estimated that two-thirds of the world's cigarette butts are discarded on the street or at the beach, without significant laws to regulate their recycling.
But that's not all, the vast majority of cigarette butts are not biodegradable, and the fact that there are no significant programs for their recycling means that they can contaminate almost any body of water in the world without action. Some cigarette butts even end up inside marine animal bodies, as is well known to happen with plastic waste.