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Marine Debris Program and Surfrider Team Up to Prevent Cigarette Butt Litter in San Francisco

JANUARY 27, 2020 — On January 18, the Marine Debris Program California Regional Coordinator, Sherry Lippiatt, joined the San Francisco chapter of the Surfrider Foundation for a cigarette butt canister installation event in the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco.

Group of people in matching green vests outdoors.
Volunteers helped to install cigarette butt canisters in the Haigh-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. Image credit: NOAA.

The volunteer event was part of a NOAA Marine Debris Program (MDP) prevention grant, "Hold on to your Butt", aimed at preventing cigarette butt litter that inevitably makes its way from sidewalks into the San Francisco Bay and coastal ocean.

During Saturday's event, volunteers installed 12 butt cans and cleaned up 1,400 cigarette butts from the sidewalks of the iconic Haight St corridor. The cans will be maintained by the City of San Francisco's Department of Public Works and Downtown Streets team. To-date Surfrider has installed 72 of 100 cans as part of their MDP grant, and many more that are independently funded and maintained by business owners in areas that aren't covered by the City. The MDP grant also supports the purchase and installation of an additional 75 cans in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area that will be maintained by the National Park Service. All recovered cigarette butts are shipped to TerraCycle for recycling.  

Surfrider is gearing up for a big media push to highlight the butt cans and San Francisco's efforts to reduce cigarette butt litter. They partnered with Root Solutions to survey smokers to identify barriers and effective messaging to encourage proper butt disposal, and Media Cause to design a public service announcement and marketing campaign that will launch in the coming months. The messaging will focus on solutions and positive steps smokers can take to reduce cigarette butt litter.

For further information, contact Sherry.Lippiatt@noaa.gov.

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Man installing canister to a pole.
Two volunteers install a cigarette butt can on a light post. Image credit: NOAA.
Last updated Feb. 3, 2020