Clean Up Cairns launches with ‘big butt hunt’ 31 August

About 10,350 cigarette butts were picked up from three city streets at the launch of Clean Up Cairns today, marking the start of four community clean up events this month.

The second annual Big Butt Hunt – hosted by No More Butts, Cairns Regional Council and Clean Up Australia – saw 20 volunteers search city streets for cigarette butts between Cairns Central and Cairns Esplanade.

The CBD clean up kicked off a series of weekly community clean ups held across the Cairns region in September.

Deputy Mayor Terry James said Clean Up Cairns was a fantastic way for people to show pride in their community and tidy up their local suburb.

“The CBD cigarette butt hunt is the start of four weekly clean ups hosted by Council and Clean Up Australia throughout September for families and the community to get involved in picking up rubbish from their neighbourhoods, parks and waterways,” Cr James said.

“September is the best time for us to pick up rubbish before the wet season rain washes it out to sea.”

“Getting involved in a clean-up in your area is a great way to get out, meet your neighbours and help our environment.”

“Last year, about 200 volunteers removed 137 bags of rubbish, which was around 34 wheelie bins of litter, consisting of thousands of pieces of soft plastics, food wrappers, chip packets, drink containers and, of course, cigarette butts.”

“This year, we’d love to see more people step up to clean up.”

Community clean ups start in Manunda this Sunday with events planned for every weekend in September throughout the region.

No More Butts founder Shannon Mead estimates over 800,000 cigarette butts are littered in Cairns every week.

“Recently, the Environment Minister highlighted cigarette butts as one of the most common types of rubbish found in the marine environment and that marine debris is one of the biggest threats facing the Great Barrier Reef,” Mr Mead said.

“This toxic plastic litter is not only terrible to look at, but also causes significant damage to our environment.”

“With 40% of littered cigarette butts ending up in our waterways, there is a heightened threat of marine debris and also an impact on the water quality – both vital elements for the health of the Reef.”

As part of the Big Butt Hunt, No More Butts is partnering with Dr Elsa Antunes from James Cook University to create biochar (free of contaminants) from the cigarette butts.

Biochar has a range of applications, including water purification and soil remediation. Dr Elsa Antunes and her team will investigate value-added applications for this biochar.

List of Clean Up Cairns locations



Meeting point


Cairns Central swamp (opposite TAFE)


Opposite TAFE on Wilkinson St

Sunday 3 September, 9am to 11am

Bana Gindarja Creek

Bentley Park

Ravizza Drive

Sunday 3 September, 9am to 11am.

Kamerunga Environmental Park


Under Barron River bridge, Stoney Creek side.

Sunday 17 September, 8am to 10am.

Shang Park


Shang St

Sunday 24 September, 9am to 11am.

Safety requirements

  • Wear enclosed footwear, sun smart clothing and BYO water bottle.
  • On the day, be kind to others and wash your hands regularly.

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