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Cigarette butts big part of big litter problem

Nova Scotians are littering more than they did four years ago, according to an Environment Department report released yesterday.

Nova Scotians are littering more than they did four years ago, according to an Environment Department report released yesterday.

It found a 21 per cent increase in garbage tossed onto the street compared to 2004.

“We are disappointed that litter continues to be a problem in Nova Scotia," said David Morse, environment minister. “Nova Scotians need to understand that there are serious environmental, economic and social impacts when people do not dispose of their waste properly.”

Last summer, the Nova Scotia Youth Conservation Corps picked up trash from 55 randomly chosen sites across the province, including Halifax.

Members collected more than 16,000 pieces of garbage, including: cigarette butts, food wrappers, bottles and fast-food containers.

Almost three-quarters of the junk was discarded butts.

“One cigarette butt may be small, but when you add them all up, we are talking about high ratios of toxic chemicals like tar, carbon monoxide and lead leaching into our soil, water systems and into the food chain,” said Youth Corp volunteers Claire Simmons.

“I’m frustrated people can’t take the extra few minutes to clean up after themselves,” said Bill Ring, CEO of the Resource Recovery Fund Board. “As a former smoker, I’m sure I’ve littered. Now, I pick up fairly often.”

Progress has been made in cutting back on stray drink containers. When the survey was first conducted in 1989, 70 per cent of the waste was bottles; the deposit-return system introduced in 1996 is credited with dropping that number to five per cent.

“As Nova Scotia moves toward the goal of reducing the disposal rate to 300 kilograms of garbage per person, per year, the Department of Environment will continue to increase awareness about the litter problem,” said Morse.

“Littering not only hurts the environment, but hurts Nova Scotia’s image as an international leader in solid waste management."

 
 
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