Cigarette butts Auckland's most littered item

Cigarette butts are New Zealand's most littered item.

Cigarette butts are New Zealand's most littered item.

Auckland Council receives more than one littering complaint a day, with cigarette butts being the city's most littered item. 

In the last 12 months littering was reported 550 times with cigarette butts accounting for more than a quarter of complaints.

Of the 550 complaints Auckland Council received, only 34 resulted in fines - with 29 of these for cigarette butts.

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Other commonly reported items were takeaway containers, cans, furniture and bags of rubbish. 

People caught littering items less than 1 litre in weight, such as cigarette butts, face a $100 fine.

Auckland Council waste solutions general manager Ian Stupple said reporting an incident doesn't necessarily lead to finding an offender. 

Cigarette butts were often littered from moving vehicles, making offenders difficult to track down, he said. 

Keep New Zealand Beautiful (KNZB) general manager Jodie Stuart said in New Zealand more than 6 million cigarette butts were discarded into the environment each year.

Stuart said since changes to the Smokefree Environment Act banned indoor smoking  there had been a significant jump in cigarette butt litter.

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Stuart said Auckland needed to adopt a sustainable waste reduction plan.

"Cigarette butts end up in our waterways and enter the food chains of fish, birds and other marine life. We believe this is a significant issue that needs to be addressed."

Members of social networking website Neighbourly were divided as to whether cigarette butt litter was an issue.

Peter Mumby from Kohimarama said cigarette butt litter was a significant issue and council should install cigarette butt bins on all footpaths and private establishments should have smoke bins.

"We don't want wildlife coming into contact with cigarette butts, however there are not many options for smokers to dispose their butts," he said.

Susan Williams from Saint Heliers said it was intriguing how some smokers who would never think of throwing other rubbish on the ground, do exactly that when it comes to cigarette butts.

"It is as though it just doesn't occur to them."

Jeanette Fitzgerald from Meadowbank said despite being small cigarette butts were a problem.

"Size doesn't matter – it is still rubbish that turns into pollution," she said. 

Janice O'Neill from Saint Johns said the issue was trivial and New Zealand would never be cigarette butt free.

"Cigarette butt littering has been going on for centuries. What do you propose to do? Pick them all up? That's a bit unrealistic," she said. 

In the coming months KNZB will undertake a national litter audit that will lead to driving behavioural change in "litter hot spots".

 - Stuff

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