Montreal redefines the term ‘butthead’ in bid to cut down on pollution

Cigarette butts are an item most people don't realize can be recycled. John MacDougall/AFP/Getty Images

The City of Montreal is redefining the word butthead in a bid to keep city streets clean and cut down on pollution.

In a new social media campaign, the city defines a butthead as “someone who throws their cigarette butts on the ground.”

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In Montreal and other big cities, discarded butts make up around 30 per cent of litter found on the ground.

On its website, the city explains that just one cigarette butt can contain up to 7,000 toxic chemicals, and if thrown on the ground, it can pollute up to 500 litres of water.

Officials are also reminding residents not to put out their cigarettes in planters or flowerbeds to reduce the risk of fire. Chemicals in the soil can ignite when in contact with the cigarette.

READ MORE: Cigarettes thrown in flower pots could start fires — SIM

Since 2016, the city has been installing ashtrays on busy streets. There are currently 620 ashtrays spread out in eight boroughs.

The collected cigarette butts are then recycled through a program offered by TerraCycle — a company that bills itself as specializing in the recycling of typically non-recyclable waste.

The city says that the tip of the cigarette, partially composed of plastic, can be made into other objects, while the paper and tobacco can be turned into compost.

WATCH: Montreal holds public hearings to discuss reducing waste

Click to play video: 'Reducing your carbon footprint in Montreal'
Reducing your carbon footprint in Montreal

Between April and November 2018, the City of Montreal recycled 459,719 cigarette butts.

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Left on the ground, those butts could have contaminated up to 230 million litres of water, or the equivalent of 92 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to the city.

Officials are hoping residents will do what’s right for the environment and discard their cigarettes in ashtrays.

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