Plastic Dust (campaign)


Plastic Dust is an environmental protection campaign tackling the most littered item in the world – cigarette butts.

Most cigarette butts are not biodegradable because they contain cellulose acetate – a form of plastic. A cigarette butt can take up to 10 years to decompose, breaking down into plastic dust that will circulate in the environment indefinitely.

Cigarette butts also contain carcinogens, nicotine and other toxins. Littered butts pollute the environment, are toxic to marine ecosystems, choke and poison land and sea animals, leach chemicals and toxins into the ground and waterways poisoning living organisms, impact the quality of our water, are fire hazards, are a risk to the health and safety of young children and pets, and cost the community time and money to clean up.

Around the world, approximately 75% of cigarette butts are discarded into the environment each year. That’s over 4.5 trillion cigarettes… weighing around 750000 tonnes.

In Australia, approximately 20 million cigarette butts are littered every day. That’s 7 billion butts (of the 24 billion cigarettes sold) in Australia each year.  If laid end to end, the line of butts would circle Earth 3.6 times.


Plastic Dust asks smokers to bin their butts. And if there isn’t a bin nearby, to keep the butt until one is located. Earth is not an ashtray. And littering is an environmental crime

Plastic Dust appeals to city councils to provide cigarette butt recycling receptacles in litter hotspots, and to provide a cigarette butt recycling service as part of their Waste Management Strategy. If you would like to add your voice to the Gold Coast community asking City Council to offer cigarette butt recycling, sign the petition… or start one for your community. 

Plastic Dust acknowledges the efforts of people around the world who are dedicating their time and energy to picking up butts and other litter. Thank you for standing up to protect the environment, as well as the land and marine animals who are eating and choking on people’s dirty habit.


To collaborate on clean-up initiatives in Australia or South Africa: