War on butts: Vancouver council candidate Derrick O’Keefe targets cigarette litter

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      Cigarette butts are no joking matter.

      A UBC study released last August found that cigarettes and filters make up nearly half of trash on Vancouver’s shorelines.

      According to the City of Vancouver, cigarette butts are the most common litter on streets.

      Derrick O’Keefe, a candidate for city council, wants the city to do more in eliminating this waste.

      “In a city like Vancouver, which prides itself on being the greenest city, we should be a leader in recycling cigarette butts and in properly disposing them,” O’Keefe told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      This coming weekend, O’Keefe will be meeting up with a neighbour to shoot a video about the issue of cigarette butts.

      O’Keefe’s neighbour is Peter Junger, who has a couple of ideas regarding the disposal of butts.

      One is the require cigarette vendors to display signage describing the damage to the environment caused by improperly disposed butts.

      The second is to ask vendors offer pocket ashtrays for sale, so smokers will have a receptacle on hand to put their used filters.

      In 2013, the city and a number of partners launched a pilot project to collect cigarette butts for recycling.

      Around 100 containers were installed in four downtown neighbourhoods to keep butts off street pavements.

      According to the city, some 200,000 butts have been collected so far.

      O’Keefe, who is running with the Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE), said that one thing council can also do is look at expanding this cigarette disposal program to other areas in the city.

      Peter Junger doing his rounds in his neighbourhood.

      Junger, for his part, has been picking up butts in his neighbourhood.

      “Since nobody was allowed to smoke inside anymore, cigarette butts have all moved outside,” Junger told the Straight in a phone interview.

      Junger is aghast that a number of smokers don’t care what their butts can do. Filters are made of plastic and are full of chemicals.

      “One cigarette butt will wipe out all life in a liter of water,” Junger said. “The birds are using it for nesting material.”

      In addition to O’Keefe and COPE, Junger has also approached the Green Party of Vancouver, which he said has been supportive.

      According to Junger, he chose COPE and the Greens because they’re “probably going to form the majority of council” after the October 20 election.