Beach waste management in heavy tourism-oriented areas is a complex activity. The number of users, type of beach activities, natural conditions such as wind and tidal changes, beach composition, difficult access, and various other factors make it a time a resource consuming effort with varying results.
Some items that are frequently identified during beach litter surveys are especially problematic. One of them are cigarette butts. Depending on natural conditions, estimates on the total degradation of cigarette butts vary from 10 months to up to 10 years. Even then, they degrade into microplastics causing permanent environmental hazards, both to the land and ocean environment.
In order to deal with this issue on beaches of Istrian region, IRENA, in cooperation with regional stakeholders, has identified good practices that could be replicated within the region and has proposed the action of developing biodegradable cardboard ashtrays, free-to-use and easy to dispose.
In July 2023, the first four stands equipped with free-to-use cardboard ashtrays were installed in Rabac, Ravni and Plomin Luka, all situated on the Labin area coastline. The first weeks of implementation have shown different results, in some areas the users have shown significant interest and have properly used the ashtrays, but in some locations, the amount of cigarette butts found on the beach and coastline shows that there is still a need to constantly raise awareness about the issue of improper disposal of cigarette butts and the consequences arising from it.
More photos can be found here.