Littering in Vancouver on the rise, especially cigarette butts and cups

The amount of garbage thrown to the curb in Vancouver is on the rise.

Elise Roberts never leaves home without her rubber gloves and plastic bag. She’s determined to clean up the North Shore, one cigarette butt at a time.

“There is an epidemic, and people just aren’t thinking about it,” says Roberts.

When it comes to litter, Roberts says the butts aren’t just unsightly, they’re dangerous

Each butt contains about 1200 toxins that can take more than a decade to break down. Many of the discarded butts end up in local waterways.

The City of Vancouver is trying to tackle the problem, becoming the first city in North America to pilot a butt recycling program.

Smokers can put their cigarettes in bins around town, which are collected and converted to industrial plastic. After almost a year in operation, the city says the project is working.

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While cigarette butts are the main source of litter, more and more paper cups are being thrown out windows and onto city sidewalks.

According to a city report, cups are generating more public complaints, particularly around transit stops.

Since May, paper and plastic cups and lids can be recycled in blue bins — just leave the straws out.

Cup recycling is available everywhere in Metro Vancouver except for the Township of Langley and Delta.

— with files from Tanya Beja, Global News