Volunteers have collected almost 90,000 cigarette butts during a two-week cleanup of the Dutch beaches, in a total of 4,400 kilos of waste left by beachgoers.
‘That is 30,000 more than last year,’ said Marijke Boonstra, spokeswoman for environmental organisation Stichting Noordzee which organises the hunt.
Over 33,000 discarded butts were found during the operation at Zandvoort while Scheveningen came second on the list with about 13,000.
Filters typically contain a form of plastic, cellulose acetate and do not biodegrade. ‘One cigarette butt can contaminate up to a 1,000 liter of water. It’s 95% plastic and toxic substances, and incredibly harmful the environment and the animals in it,’ Boonstra said.
Among the waste, volunteers found debris from containers washed overboard when container ship MSC Zoe got into trouble during a storm in 2019, and packaging dating back to 1983.
They also found a large number of dead birds. ‘It’s very sad to see dozens of dead birds every day. It shows how vulnerable North Sea fauna is and how important it is we protect it,’ Boonstra said.
It is the ninth time the organisation has organised the cleanup. ‘We need cigarette-free beaches. We are calling on all local councils to ban smoking in all but certain zones, as has happened in [the seaside resort of Renesse, ’ Boonstra said.
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