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Cigarette Litter Prevention Program

Join the fight against the #1 littered item in the world…


Yearly, 6 trillion cigarettes are smoked and 4.5 trillion of them are littered worldwide. This means the 75% of used cigarettes end up on our streets and eventually in our oceans.

Why Does That Matter?

  • Cigarettes contain chemicals including carcinogens, arsenic, lead and nicotine. These toxic chemicals impact plants that come in contact with them. Cigarette butts just laying on the surface of the ground reduce sprouting of plants a little over 25% and effect the biomass of roots below close to 60%.
  • A single cigarette butt can pollute up to 1 gallons of water VISIBLY! Try an experiment at home – get a large clear container, fill it up with water and add one cigarette butt you find out on the street. Watch the water turn color overnight. Now imagine all of the thousands of cigarette butts floating in our oceans and streams!
  • Cigarettes have a filter made of a plastic called cellulose acetate, which never decomposes. This plastic piece simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces called microplastics. Microplastics in detectable measures are found everywhere now, including in human babies before they are even born.
  • Birds will sometimes line their nest with them which will effect the babies health and development. Swallowing a cigarette can cause vomiting and convulsions in dogs, babies and other similar sized animals.
  • Littered cigarette butts also pose a fire risk, especially here in San Diego County!

Map of Buttcans Across San Diego County

How Can I Help?

The Cigarette Litter Prevention Program (CLPP) was created by Keep America Beautiful in 2002 and is the nation’s largest program aimed at eliminating cigarette butt and cigar tip litter. Since its inception, the program has been successfully implemented in more than 1,800 urban, suburban, and rural communities nationwide. Since 2009, I Love A Clean San Diego has partnered with Keep America Beautiful to participate in this program to install cigarette buttcans at interested businesses and provide resources and education to all members of San Diego County. Use the map above to see our buttcan installations across the County.

There are several ways to get involved with this program, pick whatever works for you!

Get a FREE buttcan installed at your business!

With a buttcan installation, cigarette butt litter has been cut by as much as 60 percent in some implementation areas based on measurements taken in the first six months after installation. The installation of a buttcan is completely free and maintenance is handled by I Love A Clean San Diego Buttcan Ambassador program. To apply for a free buttcan installation, you must be the property owner, have a business with an available pole or wall on your property, and be in a high foot traffic area with need for disposal. To get started simply complete the CLPP Interest Form.

Join the volunteer task force that maintains buttcans across San Diego County!

Each buttcan needs to be visited on a monthly basis to remove any graffiti, stickers and be emptied. Anyone 21 years or older is eligible to become a Buttcan Ambassador for a community of your choosing! No experience needed, all training and supplies provided. To get started simply complete the CLPP Interest Form. See the map of all of the buttcans around San Diego County and see if there is any close to you!

Whenever you are picking up litter around San Diego County, we would recommend sorting out cigarette butts to be recycled! You read that right, cigarettes can be recycled through TerraCycle’s FREE program. All of those cigarette butts have a plastic filter that will be given a second life as a park bench in three simple steps! All you have to do is create an account at and then request a free shipping label to print out. Reuse any box and bag up cigarettes in a repurposed grocery bag, tape on the shipping label and simply take it to a UPS location near you. Don’t forget to let us know about your good work in your log book when you are reporting your hours.

Interested in Helping?

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