Outdoor Ashtrays Reduce Litter, Especially The Discarded Cigarettes That Flow To Waterways

river in city

Outdoor ashtrays can keep the harmful plastic from cigarette filters out of rivers, lakes, and oceans.

Outdoor Ashtrays are becoming a necessity to combat the No. 1 source of litter and to prevent it from getting in our waterways.

How many times have you seen a Hollywood movie or TV show where the main actor tries to look cool as he takes a drag on a cigarette?  Then he flicks it off to the side.

Little do the directors of these movies realize they are promoting the No. 1 cause of litter in America – discarded cigarettes.

According to Keep America Beautiful, cigarette butts make up 38% of all litter on roads and 30% of all litter at transitions points.

More Americans, including smokers, are making a conscious effort to put litter in proper trash receptacles.

However, 65% of smokers still flick their used cigarettes to the ground.

This not only causes an unsightly mess on streets and in parks.

But cigarettes are one of the leading items found in storm drains. As everyone knows, water from those storm drains flows down into our rivers, lakes, bays and oceans.

Consider their composition – 95% of filters are cellulose acetate, a very, very durable plastic.

Those small, seemingly innocuous cigarette butts can pose a real hazard to fish and wildlife.

The solution?

Outdoor ashtrays.

Outdoor ashtrays reduce the No. 1 source of litter

Not only do park, city and commercial facility managers need to be sure there are plenty of commercial trash cans at key locations, but they should be sure to install outdoor ashtrays or ash urns on top of those trash receptacles or nearby.

Even Keep America Beautiful states in one of their reports: “There is a special need for more ash receptacles.”

Here is a breakdown of litter found at recreational areas:

  • Tobacco products – 31.5%
  • Confection (i.e. candy wrappers) – 18.5%
  • Paper – 15.7%
  • Plastic – 12.7% (super harmful to the environment because it takes decades for this material to break down)
  • Organic – 7.8%
  • Metal – 7%
  • Glass – 5.3%

Discarded cigarettes are a major source of contaminants in storm drains

When it comes to storm drains, only certain items tend to get swept away in the runoff.

They are:

  • Organic Litter – 32.2%
  • Tobacco Products – 32%
  • Inorganic – 15.6%
  • Plastics – 10.2%
  • Plastic Fast Food Products – 7%
  • Plastic Drink Products – 2%
  • Plastic Bags – .9%

Those are all very harmful, mostly long-lasting trash items flowing into our precious waterways.

Most of those items tend to be less than 4 inches in size.

But they can do tremendous damage when it comes to contaminating water or as hazards to marine life.

outdoor ashtrays

Different types of outdoor ashtrays.

More cigarette receptacles recommended by experts

In one study where KAB researchers actually sat at different locations and recorded litter activity, they noticed that 91% of the sites they visited had trash receptacles.

However, only 47% featured outdoor ashtrays.

(Another negative, only 12% of locations had recycling receptacles).

More than 40% of smokers report there aren’t any outdoor ashtrays at their place of work.

Generally, litter is discarded properly when the trash receptacle is less than 30 feet away. That’s one reason why you don’t see litter at Disney parks. Walt Disney conducted his own research and determined there needs to be trash receptacles located within 27 feet of each other. He paced the distance himself several times to be sure.

Outdoor ashtrays have several different names.

They are also known as:

outdoor ashtray

Smokers outpost.

  • Ash urns
  • Smokers outposts
  • Cigarette receptacles
  • Sand top urns
  • Snuffers
  • Smoker stations

They are made out of a variety of materials:

  • Concrete
  • Plastic
  • Metal
  • Fiberglass

Some have oxygen-restricting, self-extinguishing features.

Others such as ash urns are placed on top of trash receptacles.

The great thing about receptacles designed specifically for cigarettes is that 99% of smokers recognize these products. They know this is the proper place to dispose of their smokes.

If those outdoor ashtrays are present, they will use them.

So, there’s one simple solution to a major cause of litter.

One that the public, fish, wildlife and Mother Nature will appreciate.

Not only add an adequate number of trash receptacles relatively close to each other.

But be sure there are plenty of outdoor ashtrays too.


About Robert Caston

Robert Caston
Robert Caston oversees Content Marketing for The Park Catalog. Robert earned a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for several newspapers. He is a connoisseur of fresh air and loves photographing nature whether he’s hanging out in a national park or a park down the street. With a passion for the outdoors, he is a strong advocate of green spaces and getting people out of the house. His favorite parks are the spectacular Grand Teton National Park in northwest Wyoming and the incredible Twin Rivers Park in Stuart, Fla.

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