Professor Christina Cogdell
December 6, 2018
Raw Materials for Cigarettes
When people think of smoking, just about everyone knows that the habit is bad for the body and can assume that cigarettes are full of toxic chemicals. Regardless of the dangers of smoking, the tobacco industry continues to be a powerhouse within consumers seeing a bigger profit more and more each year. According to the Tobacco Atlas, in 2010, Big Tobacco’s (the five leading tobacco companies: Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Imperial Brands, Japan Tobacco International, and China Tobacco) combined profits were equal to that of Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Microsoft combined expressing the significance of a cigarette being similar to that of a food or technology companies. This being that the tobacco industry estimates an income of $35 billion but also are to blame for six million annual deaths. Despite various antismoking advertisements and messages shown every day and more over clearly stating that smoking can lead to cancer thus leading to death, people smoke cigarettes every day. This can vary for multiple reasons such as social acceptance and/or peer pressure, celebrity influence, weight loss or a coping mechanism as some people smoke to relax or reduce stress but in the end the effect to the body is always the same and leads to serious health issues. The reason behind these serious health issues is because people are correct in believing that cigarettes contain toxic chemicals, but one thing is simply knowing the general fact, another is actually fully understanding what goes into the making of a cigarette. The American Lung Association has stated that there are about 600 ingredients in cigarettes but when burned they create more than 7,000 chemicals, 250 of these are known to be harmful and sixty-nine within that group are known to cause cancer. With such a known statistic, this report is focused on taking a deeper look into the materials used during the manufacturing phase, the carcinogens added to cigarettes, and the overall view of how the process and product itself are both deleterious to our environment.
When growing and harvesting the primary tobacco plant, the process of this is typically like any other crop. This includes planting seeds requiring good soil and mulch, watering, allowing sunlight, and adding chemicals to protect the plant from frost damage or insect attacks and allow a healthy growth. Over the years the tools for all this has changed as technology advanced and to be more efficient, before the industrial revolution tobacco fields were harvested with pure manual labor. According to a report on LeafOnly.com titled “Tobacco Leaf Harvesting, Curing, and Fermenting,” there are two ways to harvest tobacco: “The oldest known method in use is simply cutting off the stalk at the ground using a curved knife. The other way to harvest tobacco leaves originated in the nineteenth century. They started to harvest the tobacco plant by pulling individual leaves off the stalk as they ripened,” (“Tobacco Leaf Harvesting, 1) After this step, the plants were handed to stringers who would wrap the plants onto a pole, hung and loaded onto wagons pulled by animals to be color-cured. Now mostly all these tasks are done by diesel fueled machines and tractors which are operated by people. The significance behind this is that less tools and materials are now used to harvest the crop which saves many costs, it is faster also saving many costs but at the one vital cost of using fossil fuels to power the machines which emit carbon monoxide (CO2) into the environment.
It is important to know that the curing phase is necessary for the tobacco plant since initially the leaves are too green, and moist to burn. To cure the tobacco plants, a specific barn must be used and one out of three curing methods which include air, flue, or fire. Each curing method still has some sort of negative impact on the environment though, since this process requires heat the plants are either artificially heated wasting electricity or the use of fire, once again emitting CO2. Notably, in an article on the Thomson Reuters Foundation News website titled “Tobacco farms drive major deforestation in Tanzania,” it states that, “Cutting of trees for firewood to cure tobacco over the last few decades has been a major driver of deforestation and worsening...” (Makoye 1) which requires either full on man power or some type of machine to tear down the grand trunk which continues to destructively effect environments, now losing more wildlife. During the curing phase, the leaves dry and produce compounds that give it distinguished flavors contributing to the “smoothness” of the later consumed cigarette. Artificial flavors are added alongside these natural forming flavors which assist in the amount of revenue seen from consumers which is already beginning to elongate even more the list of chemicals used in cigarettes. In a documentary provided by the Food and Drug Administration titled “Chemicals in Every Cigarette,” it is stated that while the plant is curing, carcinogens naturally begin to form. These are called tobacco-specific nitrosamines, or T.S.N.A.’s and these carcinogens differ depending on the method chosen for curing. Once this step is completed the leaves are sorted by grade based off of size, color and quality and bundled up. It is then shipped and sorted once again for government inspection then finally auctioned to cigarette manufacturers. Unfortunately, during both shipment phases they are hauled by vehicles which again is emitting CO2 which increases even more the levels of the gas during this production process.
Finally, we get into the more interesting part of the process, to find out just what type of chemicals the manufacturers add onto the leaves. According to a small description alongside the video provided by the Food and Drug Association, they state, “…manufactures may use additives to enhance product flavor and reduce harshness. But some of these added chemicals can also cause harm” (Chemicals in Every Cigarette 1) and one of these chemicals being ammonia, which is a common used household cleaner. “Ammonia compounds can change how easily nicotine can be absorbed into the body, which can make the cigarette more addictive. Added sugars, when burned, become carcinogens” (Chemicals in Every Cigarette 1) which are absorbed by the mouth and lungs but beside creating the cigarette and smoking it, simply by lighting it leads to the creation of much more toxic chemicals. In a list provided by the American Lung Association on their website, here are some more examples of just a few chemicals that are added to cigarettes: acetone which is found in nail polish remover, arsenic which is used in rat poison, benzene which is found in rubber cement, butane which is used in lighter fluid, cadmium which is an active component in battery acid, lead which is used in batteries, methanol which is a main component in rocket fuel, nicotine which is used as an insecticide, tar which is a material for paving roads and toluene which is used to manufacture paint. Within the factory, in order to input these chemicals to the tobacco leaves, machines are used to spray them, then after the blending sent to be pressed and shredded thus using electricity a lot of energy for this big step in the process. According to a descriptive report titled “Cigarette” on the How Products are Made website, it states that to finalize the cigarette, “The final shredded tobacco is then dispersed over a continuous roll of cigarette paper. A machine rolls the shredded tobacco into the paper and cuts it to the desired length. A device then grabs each cigarette and fastens a filter in one end. Modern cigarette machines can produce 25-30 cigarettes a second” (Cigarette 1). Once again this is using big, heavy machinery which requires a great amount of electricity to operate. The final step is packaging twenty cigarettes to one paper carton, then sealed in cellophane.
The cigarette moves onto the next phase which is consumption which requires some type of fire source in order to ignite it which of course is emitted the various toxic chemicals into the atmosphere and not only affecting the consumer but any living being within the vicinity. Then onto its waste phase and unfortunately, the cigarette itself now becomes destructive because consumers regularly just flick away the cigarette butt rather than properly throw it away which then end up in oceans and destroying that ecosystem along with many other wildlife enviornments. In a statistical report provided by Longwood University titled “Cigarette Butt Litter,” it explains how cigarette butts are the most found piece of trash and back in 2007 it consisted 38% of the worldwide debris. This percentage was already an increased number compared to its previous years so a decade later more than likely it has significantly increased since Big Tobacco continues to see an increase in revenue.
It is sad to see and come to the acceptance that people who smoke just do not care about the damage they are doing to their bodies. The purpose of this paper is so that readers can get yet another idea of all the toxic chemicals and materials and the long process it takes to create cigarettes and just how harmful this product is. All the tools, materials and steps from the growing and harvesting, to preparing the leaves, to forming the cigarette, to using the product and lastly to not even properly throw away the cigarette is just extremely damaging. The level of destruction this “cancer” has, compared to its life span only being lit for no more than five minutes, is too detrimental for people, wildlife and the Earth itself. Regardless for the reason to smoke cigarettes, it is not worth it to harm the human body and all the surroundings so please pass on the message: value life and quit smoking.
Life Cycle of a Cigarette Assessment Bibliography
American Cancer Society. “Tobacco Industry Profits Estimated $35 Billion With Almost 6 Million Annual Deaths.” Maurer Foundation, The Maurer Foundation, 19 Sept. 2014, www.maurerfoundation.org/tobacco-industry-profits-estimated-35-billion-with-almost-6-million-annual-deaths/.
Alabdrabalnabi, Aessa. “The Life Cycle of a Cigarette.” Personal PSU, Portland State University, personal.psu.edu/aha5235/Team project/Life Cycle of Cigarette.pdf.
Center for Tobacco Products. “Products, Ingredients & Components - Chemicals in Every Cigarette.” U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, 2017, www.fda.gov/tobaccoproducts/labeling/productsingredientscomponents/ucm535267.htm.
“Cigarette.” How Products Are Made, Advameg, Inc., www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Cigarette.html.
Clean Virginia Waterways. “Cigarette Butt Litter.” Virginia Agiculture 2007, Longwood University, 2007, www.longwood.edu/cleanva/cigbutthowmany.htm.
Harris, Jesse. “LIFE CYCLE ANALYSIS OF A CIGARETTE.” Prezi.com, Prezi Inc., 13 Feb. 2014, prezi.com/o73ggg3hnoeg/life-cycle-analysis-of-a-cigarette/.
Makoye, Kizito. “Tobacco Farms Drive Major Deforestation in Tanzania.” News.trust.org, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 26 Dec. 2012, news.trust.org//item/20121226220700-4cney/.
Peat, Thomas. “The Life Cycle of A Cigarette. Extraction Main Component- Tobacco Nicotiana Tabacum, or Cultivated Tobacco Nicotiana Rustica, or Wild Tobacco Mainly Grown. - Ppt Download.” SlidePlayer, Slide Player Inc., 2015, slideplayer.com/slide/4019187/.
“Tobacco Leaf Harvesting, Curing, and Fermenting.” Red Rose, Fronto King, Hot Grabba Leaf, Fanta Leaf, and Other Tobacco Leaf Types for Sale at Leaf Only., Leaf Only, 2018, www.leafonly.com/tobacco-harvesting-curing-fermenting.php.
Tobacco Seeds. “Cultivation, Harvest, and Curing.” Victory Heirloom Seed Company - Preserving the Future, One Seed at a Time!, Victory Seed Company, 2016, www.victoryseeds.com/tobacco/backer_cultivation.html.
“What's In a Cigarette?” American Lung Association, American Lung Association, 30 Nov. 2015, www.lung.org/stop-smoking/smoking-facts/whats-in-a-cigarette.html.
DES 40A A04
06 December 2018
Cigarette LCA: Energy
Cigarettes are best known for their negative impact on human health and the environment, but little is known about how much energy usage goes into production and distribution of this product. Before the manufacturing and packaging of cigarettes begins, tobacco is grown, cultivated, cured, and treated, before it is shipped to factories for assembly. Growing tobacco is a very water-intensive process, in addition to the energy intensive process of the curing and treating of harvested tobacco leaves; all sorts of toxic chemicals occur during the treatment process, adding flavor to the tobacco leaves. What little is known are provided by self-published reports by tobacco companies that may or may not be reliable data. Despite the lack of transparency provided by the tobacco industry on the total energy consumption in the production of cigarettes, cities and organizations have found ways to mitigate negative impacts through efficient energy management of cigarette production facilities and the recycling of cigarette butts.
The unregulated energy consumption within the tobacco industry has led to increasing negative environmental impacts. In order to generate electrical power, non-renewable resources are burned to create energy with byproducts of greenhouse gas emissions. According to the World Health Organization, in 2015, Imperial Tobacco, a tobacco company, consumed 1004 GWh per year, 2051 KW per one million cigarettes (2017). In 2014, the total energy input in “the global production of six trillion cigarette sticks...exceeded 62 million GJ” (Zafeiridou et al, 2018). Cigarette manufacturing is water intensive and may even “put severe stress on local water reserves” in drier regions (World of Health, 16). Inland farms dependent on groundwater basins as their main source of water may overdraft their basin, causing land subsidence, increasingly impure water, and the need to drill deeper wells to access groundwater that may or may not be safe to drink. Tobacco companies claim to be more sustainable by switching to a greener energy source, thus reducing further environmental damage, but these companies do not provide sufficient data to support their claims. Although there are some data to show for, there is still not enough information about their total energy usage for cigarette production.
Through an extensive research on the total embodied energy of cigarettes, it is safe to say data transparency among the tobacco industry is lacking. Tobacco companies claim they are becoming increasingly environmentally friendly, but their self-published reports say otherwise. The data reported by some companies are misleading due to their data calculations, thus lacking complete transparency. “There are also issues around the data formatting. Reporting per million cigarettes only, instead of absolute numbers, obscures rising overall environmental costs, as the company produces more cigarettes each year” (World Health Organization, 16). People who are not accustomed to reading charts and graphs may be easily persuaded by the misleading data. However, our knowledge on the tobacco industry’s total energy consumption is relied solely on self-published data by tobacco companies. Despite the lack of transparency from the tobacco industry on its total energy usage for cigarette production, it has not stopped people from developing ways to reduce cigarette waste.
Preventative measures are taken to reduce the cost and harm of tobacco product wastes by promoting proper disposal of cigarette butts. The city of San Francisco spends approximately $7 million every year to clean up and properly dispose of cigarette butts (Purchia, 2016). That amount of money would be better spent transforming the way cigarette users dispose of their cigarette butts. Reducing improper cigarette waste disposal would save the city money, as well as help improve the water systems from contamination when the toxic waste is washed down storm drains and into the ocean. Cigarette butts is the most commonly found trash at beaches. It is better to foster preventative methods than to spend millions on an issue that could be mitigated by simple collective actions.
Los Altos, New Jersey installed 12 cigarette bud waste collectors at 10 locations in downtown to encourage residents to properly dispose of cigarette butts instead of leaving them on the ground. Collected butts are shipped to TerraCycle to be recycled (Redell & Weber). TerraCycle’s Cigarette Waste Recycling Program takes in cigarette butts and separates them to be processed separately. The paper and tobacco waste are composted, while filters are processed into plastic pellets for plastic production (TerraCycle).
Aside from recycling, energy management consulting firms such as CENDID are being commissioned by tobacco companies to help better manage and reduce their energy usage. CENDID claims that their “energy action plans can save more than 27% in yearly energy costs,” evidence from their tri-generation project implemented in Africa (CENDID Energy Solutions). Their tri-generation system is the reclamation of heat and steam lost from electricity production. The production of electricity creates heat that is wasted, but can be used to heat chilled water instead of electricity. Additionally, tobacco companies have started transitioning towards more renewable energy source, such as solar and wind power.
Research on cigarettes are mainly focused on the health and environmental impacts of cigarette consumption and disposal rather than the resource and energy input in cigarette manufacturing. Majority of statistical data found on the energy consumption of cigarette productions are from self-published reports by tobacco companies that may not be as reliable because of how their data is formatted; some companies purposely create misleading data charts/graphs to appeal to their target audience(s). The trend of companies claim to be increasingly environmentally friendly than before to appeal to the scrutinization of consumers concerned about their environmental impacts. For environmentally conscious cigarette consumers, cities are taking action to reduce the amount of cigarette waste on their streets by installing cigarette bud collectors to foster and promote proper disposal of the consumed product instead of littering, which costs cities millions of dollars to clean up. TerraCycle accepts cigarette waste, giving them a new purpose by composting and reprocessing materials.
Carnegie Mellon University Green Design Institute. (2018) Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) China 2002 (122 sectors) Producer model [Internet], Available from: <http://www.eiolca.net/> [Accessed 30 Oct, 2018]
Total amount of energy used for tobacco manufacturing-related processes in China per ¥7 million ($1 million USD).
Carnegie Mellon University Green Design Institute. (2018) Economic Input-Output Life Cycle Assessment (EIO-LCA) US 2007 (388 sectors) Producer model[Internet], Available from: <http://www.eiolca.net/> [Accessed 24 Oct, 2018]
Resources used as fuels to manufacture $1 million USD of tobacco products in the United States.
CENDID Energy Solutions. “Tobacco.” CENDID Energy Solutions, www.cendid.com/tobacco.html.
CENDID is a energy management consultant firm for industries such as the tobacco industry to find energy efficient management and solutions.
“Cigarette.” How Products Are Made, www.madehow.com/Volume-2/Cigarette.html.
The manufacturing process of a cigarette starts from growing, harvesting, curing, and treating tobacco leaves to assemble cigarettes in packages for sale.
“Cigarette Waste Recycling Program.” TerraCycle, TerraCycle, www.terracycle.com/en-US/brigades/cigarette-waste-recycling.
The Cigarette Waste Recycling Program collects your cigarette butts and recycles them, composting tobacco reside and paper and processing filters for plastic production.
Hussain, Majid, et al. "Greenhouse gas emissions from production chain of a cigarette manufacturing industry in Pakistan." Environmental research 134 (2014): 81-90.
Data collected from the Pakistan Tobacco Company’s GHG emissions and potential strategies to reduce emissions.
Imperial Tobacco Group PLC. “Progress in Responsibility: Corporate Responsibility Review 2006.” [Accessed 27 Oct, 2018]
Company report on the sustainable actions of Imperial Tobacco from farming and harvesting to sales and marketing. Performance data is included of occupational and environmental measures.
Novotny, Thomas E., et al. "The environmental and health impacts of tobacco agriculture, cigarette manufacture and consumption." Bulletin of the World Health Organization 93 (2015): 877-880.
This article discusses the product consumption and post-consumption waste of cigarettes and how we can use policy as a tool to mitigate further environmental damage done by the tobacco industry.
Purchia, Robyn. “Will Cigarette Recycling Cans Encourage Smoking?” The San Francisco Examiner, The San Francisco Examiner, 30 Mar. 2016, 1:00 AM, www.sfexaminer.com/will-cigarette-recycling-cans-encourage-smoking/.
Redell, Bob, and Brendan Weber. “Los Altos Recycling Project: Cigarette Butts to Park Benches.” NBC Bay Area, NBC Bay Area, 29 May 2018, 10:14 AM, www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Cigarette-Butt-Park-Bench-Los-Altos-Recycling-Project-483957891.html.
World Health Organization. Tobacco and its environmental impact: an overview. World Health Organization, 2017.
A publication tracking the life cycle of a cigarette using data from self-published reports of tobacco companies.
Zafeiridou, Maria, Nicholas S. Hopkinson, and Nikolaos Voulvoulis. "Cigarette smoking: an assessment of tobacco’s global environmental footprint across its entire supply chain." Environmental science & technology 52.15 (2018): 8087-8094.
Rather than focusing on the direct damaging environmental and health issues caused by smoking cigarettes, this article focuses on the evaluation of the product’s global footprint, from cradle to grave (resources, waste, and emissions). The average cigarette consumes approximately 3.7L of water, 3.5g of oil, etc.
28 November 2018
The Waste of Cigarettes and its Impact on the Environment
Cigarettes are seen and sold everywhere around the world. They are made by blending a number of ingredients and chemicals, such as tobacco, and rolled with a machine before being secured with a filter. After this process, cigarettes are packaged in small paper or cardboard boxes, where they sit idly at convenience stores and then into a consumer’s hand. With the many preventative ads that try to keep people away from smoking cigarettes, cigarettes are commonly known for having no positive impacts. After its usage for the consumer, the remaining waste of cigarettes hold negative effects both internally and externally. While they are known to be extremely harmful to the health and wellbeing of people who consume them, cigarettes are also known to have bad effects on the environment. Through further analysis of the waste during their lifecycle, the improper disposal of cigarettes and its’ byproducts are not only toxic, but are environmentally detrimental as they contribute to a great amount of manmade waste and take a long time to degrade, leading to negative impacts to ecosystems and the environment.
The disposed contents of a cigarette are harmful to the environment. During the process of making cigarettes, there are many raw materials and chemicals that are extracted. Cigarettes are made up of over six hundred harmful ingredients, making its byproducts extremely toxic to the ecosystem (“What’s in a Cigarette?”). Some ingredients are extracted by creating chemical compounds while others are extracted from the earth. A primary ingredient that is extracted and vital to creating cigarettes is tobacco (“OECD Health Statistics 2018 ). The waste involved in the extraction process includes taking up large plots of land, contributing to deforestation in order to create space for growing tobacco. By participating in deforestation in order to create more land for growing tobacco, greenhouse emissions also increase, further harming the environment (Chabra et al.). Along with using up land, the growing process uses roughly one inch of water per week for about eight weeks. Eventually, these once fertile areas become extremely dry and unusable (J. Michael Moore and Paul E. Summer; Ash). In order to efficiently combine all these ingredients into a cigarette, factories use machinery that, when used, release emissions into the air (E. Novotny, Thomas, et al.). Tobacco and a majority of the materials and chemicals within a cigarette remain in the butt even after being used, and these chemicals, such as lead and arsenic, eventually percolate into earth’s ecosystems and waters (E. Novotny, Thomas, et al.).
Cigarettes also give off another form of waste in the form of fumes and smoke which emit pollution into the atmosphere. There are two types of smoke that are emitted into the air when a cigarette is smoldered: mainstream smoke and sidestream smoke. Mainstream smoke is the smoke that is released into the air when a cigarette is drawn and inhaled, whereas sidestream smoke is the smoke that is emitted from the end of a burning cigarette (Lynne Eldridge). Although the smoke and fumes of a cigarette dissipate within seconds of being in the air, its effects on the environment leave a long lasting impact. There are over 4000 chemicals involved in the smoke of a lit cigarette (“Tobacco: Behind the Smoke”). According to World Health Organization, smoking contributes to 2,600,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions as well as approximately 5,200,000 tons of methane emissions (E. Novotny, Thomas, et al.). The smoke that is released from cigarettes alone contributes to a great amount of pollution(Lynne Eldridge). According to a study done on comparing smoke free public spaces and areas where smoking allowed, the air that contained both sidestream and mainstream smoke proved to be at least four times more toxic(S Schick, S Glantz). The air that contained smoke had larger amounts of particulate matter, which leads to poorer AQI (air quality index) which has adverse effects on the environment and human health(“Managing Air Quality- Air Pollutant Types”). The disposed contents throughout a cigarette’s life cycle pose a threat to the environment that one may not notice with the naked eye.
Cigarettes are almost always never properly disposed of and contribute to a large amount of manmade waste which ends up in undesirable parts of the environment as well as hurting it. After their usage, cigarettes are usually thrown on the ground, and this leads to them eventually ending up in unwanted areas such as the ocean and are one of the leading types of trash found in the ocean and beaches. (“Tobacco and the environment”). It is extremely hard to clean up beaches and the ocean of this waste, as there are no efficient ways to pick up such a small item.(Ariza and Leatherman) Because of this, cigarette litter tends to stay in oceans and beaches and accumulates in large numbers. In a study on the biological effects of marine worms from cigarettes, healthy marine worms were compared to marine worms that were exposed to cigarettes for a prolonged amount of time. As a result, those that were exposed in water with cigarettes had detrimental effects towards their nervous system as well as their growth being stunted. (Wright, S. L) The negative effects on the marine worms caused them to significantly delay their burrowing activity when comparing to the healthy marine worms.(Wright, S. L) The delay of burrowing and marine worms not being able to grow to their fullest extent shows the vulnerability of marine animals and plants towards improperly disposed cigarettes in the ocean due to their toxins and materials. The toxins are absorbed and ingested by the marine life leading to adverse effects in the marine ecosystem and the food chain. If a something as small as a marine worm is greatly affected by cigarettes, those that ingest marine worms and so forth in the food chain can become victim to the same effects. When cigarettes are littered, they end up in the ocean which negatively impacts the marine environment.
Improper disposal of cigarette butts have also been known to cause wildfires which leads to negative impacts regarding climate change. Cigarettes are littered on the ground causing unsafe and dangerous consequences. The waste and remnants of a smoldering cigarette continue to burn which can allow things in its surroundings to catch fire. According to UC Davis Health, cigarettes are the main reason fires are started and lead to great damage both towards the environment and costs to clean up. (Carole Gan). An estimated 90% of wildfires are caused by humans, which includes improperly disposing cigarettes.(“Wildfire Causes and Evaluations”) When Cigarettes are manufactured and then distributed, the transportation that is required for distribution releases carbon emissions from the trucks and cars. Forest fires also contribute to this kind of pollution to the air, and can release the same amount of carbon emissions in a couple of weeks as cars do in a year (Andrea Thompson). In addition, they destroy vegetation that can help filter air and carbon dioxide. When cigarettes are discarded in the wrong place and not put out, it can lead to dire consequences like wildfires causing pollution.
Cigarettes take a very long time to biodegrade, which prolongs the negative effects it poses. The cigarette filter is made out of cellulose acetate, which is more commonly known as plastic.(“Cigarette Butt Litter”) While acquiring plastic already creates carbon emissions through processing and extracting with machinery and labor, the final product of the plastic filter continues to impact the environment in the long run. Once a cigarette is used and then disposed, the plastic filter cannot be recycled and made into something else. The plastic stays in landfills and wherever it is littered, taking plastic the size of a standard water bottle approximately four hundred and fifty years to biodegrade.(“How Long does it Take a Plastic Bottle to Biodegrade?”) Although cigarette filters are smaller in size, this shows that plastic in general takes an extremely long time to biodegrade well beyond the lifetime of a human being and is not sustainable for the environment. Even if it were to be properly disposed, the leftover contents of the cigarette stay in the environment allowing for prolonged contribution to harming the environment. The accumulated plastic eventually ends up in unwanted areas and contributes to harming ecosystems, such as becoming ocean trash that kills marine animals that ingest the plastic. Because plastic takes so long to decompose, plastic is not a renewable resource, the creation and manufacturing of cigarettes depleting the amount of plastic that can be made on Earth.
Every part of the cigarette’s waste throughout its life cycle from harvesting materials to after its usages proves to be detrimental to the environment. The leftover chemicals and toxins in a cigarette eventually seep into the Earth, contaminating water, soil and poisoning marine animals. They are often disposed of improperly and find its way into oceans and ecosystems, harming marine life and leaving a huge carbon footprint. The waste that cigarettes leave from extracting its raw materials, to manufacture and usage release carbon emissions into the Earth. It’s byproducts in the forms of fumes are even pose a risk to the environment. At the end of a cigarette’s life cycle, it’s leftover ingredients and materials are not reusable and it’s contents still remain on the Earth, as it is not easily degradable. Cigarettes continually prove that they serve no positive outcomes when making this product or consuming it. Proper steps of action should be taken in order to lower the negative effects cigarettes have on the environment and prevent the waste of cigarettes to continue to accumulate in the beyond future.
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Lynne Eldridge. “Sidestream Smoke: Definiton, Effects and Dangers” Very Well Health
01 Aug, 2018, https://www.verywellhealth.com/sidestream-smoke-2248934
J. Michael Moore and Paul E. Summer. Irrigating Tobacco. The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension, April 2012
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“Cigarette Butt Litter” Clean Virginia Waterways, Longwood University
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“Tobacco: Behind the Smoke” Government of Canada Dec. 1, 2012
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Wright, S. L. et al. Bioaccumulation and biological effects of cigarette litter in marine worms. Sci. Rep. 5, 14119; doi: 10.1038/srep14119 (2015).
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