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Smokers around the world buy roughly 6.5 trillion cigarettes each year. That’s 18 billion every day. While most of a cigarette’s innards and paper wrapping disintegrate when smoked, not everything gets burned. Trillions of cigarette filters—also known as butts or ends—are left over, only an estimated third of which make it into the trash. The rest are casually flung into the street or out a window.

“There's something about flicking that cigarette butt,” says Cindy Zipf, executive director of Clean Ocean Action. “It's so automatic.”