In 2017, a Netherland startup experimented with using crows to get rid of the city of cigarette butts. About a year later, in 2018, the project was pulled due to the lack of resources and other reasons. Fast forward to recent years, there is another Dutch company looking to deal with this problem, but this time in a specific area: the beach.
Do you know what this tells us? It tells us that the Dutch must have a serious problem with cigarette filters. Jokes aside, I am glad somebody is picking up the baton. However, this time around, a robot is being used instead of animals.
Folks, meet the BeachBot, a mobile, beach-cleaning machine that can spot cigarette butts, even when partially buried in the sand, and pluck them out and dispose of them in a safe bin.
The company behind this awesome machine is The Hague-based TechTics. BeachBot uses AI and computer vision to spot strewn filters on the beach. While awesome, I don’t believe it is cost-efficient. However, it is a call to attention to the problem of cigarette butts littering.
Filters of cigarettes are full of microplastics and naturally, it is bad news if these ended up in nature. However, microplastic is perhaps the least of the worries when compared to the chemicals the filters contained.
Some of these filters are toxic to aquatic creatures and hence, it is a hazardous waste problem. In other words, cigarette butts are slowly poisoning nature’s sea turtles, birds, fishes, snails, and more.
In addition, the fibrous fragments of cigarette butts can take as long as 14 years to completely disintegrate, and given about 4.5 trillion of this toxic stuff ended up in the environment each year, it is a major issue. You can learn more about the BeachBot HERE and HERE.