Whats down our drains? – too many cigarette butts!

Drain Buddy audits have revealed that cigarette butts account for 50% of litter in Yeppoon, Gladstone and Rockhampton, with the project saving 11303 cigarette butts from washing down our drains and into the Great Barrier Reef.

A Drain Buddy is a heavy-duty basket placed in stormwater drains to collect matter including litter, organic matter and sediment. In Gladstone, Rockhampton and Yeppoon, nine baskets were installed in each city centre mid-2019, thanks to a Local Action Community Reef Protection grant, funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Fitzroy Basin Association Inc. (FBA), with support from several stakeholder groups, have audited the baskets every 12 weeks. 

The data surfacing from this project since mid-2019 has revealed three key litter hotspots in each of the city centres.

In Rockhampton, an astonishing 248 cigarette butts were recovered from a single drain in Denham St, following a 12-week collection period.
In Gladstone, Goondoon St near the Valley shopping centre has been revealed as a litter hotspot with 275 cigarettes recovered from a single drain.
In Yeppoon, Anzac Parade in the drain nearest to James St, collected a disgusting 710 cigarette butts.

Community Participation Officer Bethlea Bell said the numbers of cigarette butts at the problematic site was difficult to understand.

“It’s always hard to try and understand why people litter,” she said.

“There are many influences which could be a factor in why this drain, above others, is a cigarette butt hotspot. Foot traffic, the holiday season and general apathy may all have some impact. The common theme is humans in this equation, and that’s where this project focuses its efforts.”

The combined drain buddy audits across the CBD’s have saved a total of 11 303 cigarette butts from washing into our waterways over the past 9 months. Cigarette butts have accounted for 50% of all litter across 27 drains in Gladstone, Yeppoon and Rockhampton.

Amongst the usual culprits were some new offenders:

In Rockhampton we recovered:
128 paint chips       
33 pieces of synthetic stuffing             
I mascara wand 
104 plastic film remnants        
I car key     
1 syringe       
95 glass pieces

In Yeppoon we recovered:
143 plastic film remnants      
56 straws             
I18 pieces of confetti
143 confectionary wrappers
I urinal diffuser     
1 hearing aid      
1 vomit bag

In Gladstone, we recovered:
148 hard plastic pieces      
171 plastic film remnants             
I87 pieces of confetti
123 confectionary wrappers
I27 glass pieces     
1 ear plug