—FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—
Goumbook Celebrates Milestone with First “Save the Butts” Award Ceremony
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2nd February 2024: On the occasion of UAE Environment Day, Goumbook, a pioneer in sustainability initiatives in the UAE, proudly announced the success of the first “Save the Butts” award ceremony, on 2nd February 2024. The event marked a milestone in the history of the campaign, celebrating the collection of 1 million cigarette butts from the environment and their transformation into valuable manufacturing material.
- Since its launch in 2022, “Save the Butts” has been a highly successful initiative, mobilizing individuals and organizations to address the global issue of cigarette butt pollution and single-use plastics.
- To date, the initiative has involved more than 3,100 volunteers in 74 beach clean-ups and has established 9 permanent collection points. This effort has led to the gathering of over one million cigarette butts, amounting to nearly 230 kg of highly toxic plastic waste. Awards were made from recycled material reinforcing the campaign’s purpose to showcase waste as a valuable resource and promote circular economy principles. The awards were presented to all stakeholders who have played a crucial role in the campaign’s success.
- Goumbook highlighted the campaign’s support of national priorities and strategies, as well as the global initiative, Waste to Zero, announced by the UAE at COP28, that focuses on decarbonising waste management and transforming waste into resources.
“Save the Butts – Waste to Value” is a Goumbook campaign in partnership with Ocean Conservancy, and the Atlantis Dubai as part of their Atlas Project. The campaign is the first community-based sustainability initiative in the UAE that adopts a circular economy approach to environmental pollution: it collects and converts cigarette butts – the second most-littered item in the world – into a sustainable manufacturing material. The cigarette butts are collected by the local waste recycling company, Ecyclex and are then transformed by the UAE-based start-up Terrax. Since its launch in February 2022, “Save the Butts” has engaged with over 3,100 volunteers, across 74 beach clean-ups, and collected over one million cigarette butts – the equivalent to almost 230 kg of highly toxic plastic waste.
Goumbook presented awards to all participants that were crafted from a unique material produced by Terrax. This material is made by mixing cigarette butts with other hard-to-recycle materials. The trophies symbolize circularity and serve as tokens of appreciation for the trust and support extended by all participants. Some of the award recipients include Dubai Municipality, Accenture, Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation, Arbor School, Bloomberg, Dubai College, HSBC, LinkedIn, Nord Anglia School, Omnicom Group and Surf House.
1 Million Butts, 100% Commitment: A Collective Triumph
In just two years, the “Save the Butts” campaign has achieved a remarkable milestone, successfully diverting one million cigarette butts from the environment. This extraordinary accomplishment reflects the collaborative efforts and firm commitment of various stakeholders, including government bodies, hosts of permanent collection points, and beach clean-up partners.
“Our beach clean-ups in particular have gained a lot of traction with corporates, schools, and community groups. Through the embedded educational element, these events foster a sense of collective responsibility and environmental stewardship”, said Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Founder and Managing Director of Goumbook.
Pointing out an interesting observation, Goumbook Senior Campaign Manager, Marta Roman, commented: “A significant portion of the collected cigarette butts – approximately 55% – originated from annual commitment members, comprising businesses, hotels, and community centres, that established permanent collection points at their premises. This underscores the potential of preventing waste from going to landfill and emphasizes the impact of establishing waste collection points in public spaces.”
Two Years of “Save the Butts”: A Journey of Success
The award ceremony also marked the second campaign anniversary of “Save the Butts”, launched on UAE National Environment Day, February 4th, 2022.
To date, the campaign has collected over one million cigarette butts through the efforts of 3,100 volunteers across 74 beach clean-ups, and the establishment of nine permanent collection points. The collection points represent 56% of the overall collection, while beach clean-ups contribute the remaining 44%. This amounts to nearly 230 kg of highly toxic plastic waste.
Mobilizing members from the private, public, and education sectors, the campaign focuses on two main strategies to keep cigarette butts out of the environment: beach clean-ups and the establishment of permanent collection points. While beach clean-ups engage volunteers to pick up cigarette butts from public areas and thereby reduce pollution in critical sites, the permanent collection points are set up at locations on private property with high volumes of cigarette butts, proactively preventing waste from entering the environment. All cigarette butts are gathered, measured, and ultimately repurposed into a valuable manufacturing material through partnerships formed with local start-ups, offering an innovative solution to the waste problem happening in the UAE.
Education is a key pillar of both legs of the campaign: Every clean-up event starts with an awareness session explaining that cigarette butts are mostly made up of plastic and throwing them into the environment constitutes a littering problem. Each installation of a permanent collection point is accompanied by key messages around the plastic pollution crisis, behavioural aspects of littering, and the value of waste in a circular economy.
UAE National Environment Day: Aligned with National Strategies
The award ceremony took place on UAE National Environment Day, aligning with the campaign’s commitment to both national priorities and strategies aimed at waste reduction. Additionally, it supports the global initiative “Waste to Zero,” introduced by the UAE at COP28. This initiative emphasizes decarbonizing waste management and converting waste into valuable resources. At the emirate level, “Save the Butts” aligns with Dubai Municipality’s “An Hour with the Cleaner” community volunteering initiative. This local effort focuses on maintaining the cleanliness of public beaches and fostering environmental sustainability and civic cleanliness, thereby enhancing individuals’ social responsibility.
Tiny but Deadly
Cigarette butt pollution poses a persistent environmental challenge, with an estimated 4.5 trillion a year discarded worldwide. The ubiquity of this issue extends beyond the visible littering problem, as cigarette butts release toxic chemicals that contaminate soil and water. Despite their small size, they pose significant ecological threats, adversely impacting wildlife, marine ecosystems, and public health. The lack of awareness surrounding the environmental repercussions of improper disposal exacerbates the problem, necessitating urgent collective action, innovative waste management solutions, and increased public education to mitigate the far-reaching consequences of cigarette butt pollution on a global scale.
Working tirelessly to address this issue in the UAE, Goumbook extends its gratitude to all participants, supporters, and partners who contributed to the success of “Save the Butts”.
Goumbook invites schools and corporates to collaborate with the campaign. This involves partnering with the campaign to organise regular beach-clean-ups, establishing permanent collection points, and actively spreading awareness to educate others and encourage new organisations to get involved.
Goumbook is the leading social enterprise promoting sustainability and green practices in the UAE and beyond since 2009. Goumbook’s mission is to create a new global community focused on social and environmental responsibility, uniting experts, organizations, businesses and consumers.
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