Clean Up Cairns embarks on a ‘hunt for big asses’

Over 4,500 cigarette butts were collected in less than an hour from three city streets during the launch of Clean Up Cairns, a month-long series of 15 community clean-up events.

The first Big Butt Hunt – organized by No More Butts, Cairns Regional Council and Clean Up Australia – with teams of volunteers coming through the city streets in search of cigarette butts between Cairns Central and Cairns Esplanade.

Councilor Amy Eden pocketed hundreds of cigarette butts alongside other volunteers from AFL Cairns, No More Butts, James Cook University and community members.

The butts collected will be ‘fed’ by a particular species of fungus to break them down in an innovative trial to turn cigarette waste into reusable items.

“The Big Butt Hunt was the first of 15 cleanups organized by the Council and Clean Up Australia throughout September to get families and the community involved in removing litter from their neighbourhoods, parks and waterways. “, said Cr Eden.

“Clean Up Australia Day is earlier in the year in most other places, but September is the best time for us to intercept litter before the rainy season rains wash it out to sea,”

“Getting involved in a cleanup in your area is a great way to get out there, do good, meet your neighbors and help our environment.”

“Last year, around 200 volunteers removed 162 bags of rubbish, or around a ton of trash, consisting of thousands of pieces of soft plastic, food wrappers, packets of crisps, drink containers and, of course. , cigarette butts.

“This year, we would like to see even more people get involved.

“We are really focused on cleaning up some 10 miles of our urban streams and waterways and getting cigarette butts out of our environment.”

Community cleanups will begin with Smiths Creek in Manunda and Parramatta Park this weekend (September 3 and 4), with events scheduled every weekend in September across the region, from northern beaches to southern suburbs.

Clean Up Australia chairman Pip Kiernan said cigarette butts were still the most common item in the country, with nearly 8.9 billion butts discarded each year.

Ms Kiernan said the filters on most cigarettes are made of cellulose acetate, a type of plastic.

“Cigarette butts are toxic plastic pollution. Once thrown away, we not only dump this plastic, but also nicotine, heavy metals and other chemicals into the environment.

Cairns-based No More Butts founder Shannon Mead said the group estimated more than 800,000 cigarette butts were thrown away in Cairns every week, based on population and smoking data.

“There are no cigarette butts about it – these toxic nasties, which can take up to 15 years to decompose, can cause significant damage to our environment,” Mr Mead said.

“Cigarette butts can be washed into sewers, there is an increased threat of marine debris and an impact on water quality – both vital to reef health.”

Mr Mead said discarded butts collected during the Big Butt Hunt and community clean-ups would be repurposed in a first trial in Australia that uses mushrooms to turn cigarette butts into usable objects like insulating bricks and ashtrays.

No More Butts, through an ongoing partnership with Melbourne-based mycologist Fungi Solutions, is introducing a first local remediation facility in Australia.

The method used by Fungi Solutions fuses the mycelium (the root network of the fungus), with the tobacco filters and other composite materials to produce items such as insulating bricks and ashtrays.

Find your nearest event and full details of Clean Up Cairns on the Council’s website and Facebook page.

Elna M. Lemons