ET wants us to 'butt out'
FORMER footballer and popular television fisherman Andrew Ettinghausen, or ET, has thrown down an environment challenge to Australians.
"We embraced the plastic bag and plastic straw campaigns, but the biggest man-made contaminant of the world's oceans is actually cigarette butts," Ettinghausen said.
"Let's stop a threat to the ocean bigger than plastic bags, cigarette butts."
Ettinghausen has teamed up with Century Batteries and Clean Up Australia.
"5.6 trillion filtered cigarettes are smoked annually and it is estimated as many as two thirds of those butts end up in the ocean," he said.
"That's billions of butts."
Clean Up Australia director Pip Kiernan said many smokers were unaware filters were not readily biodegradable.
"They can take up to 12 months to break down in freshwater and up to 5 years in seawater," Ms Kiernan said.
"The residue in the butts contains toxic, soluble chemicals which are noxious to small crustaceans.
"Aquatic life at the bottom of the food chain pay the price, but fish mistake them for food and birds use them for nesting materials."
For the next few months Century Batteries will commit a portion of sales from marine batteryies sold to help Clean Up Australia spread the word.
Ettinghausen said it would be a great legacy to Clean Up Australia's late founder Ian Kiernan AO.
"Plastic bags came to our attention because we could see them tangled inside dead marine life, whereas cigarette butts are a hidden killer," he said.
"Every week when we take the boat out to film, it's nothing to see scattered butts every-where."