Trigger of the butt

It’s one of those things that non-smokers just don’t understand – why smokers can’t just bin their butts. But no matter how many bins, signs, fines and campaigns that are implemented internationally, the old cigarette butt still holds the number one position in the most littered item list.

Cigarette butts littering the beach.
Cigarette butts are a top litter item.

The team at Tangaroa Blue, with the help of COVID, decided to start with a blank sheet of paper to design a new cigarette butt litter campaign as part of our ReefClean project, and leading the charge was one of our staff, who is also an ex-smoker, and who had flicked his fair share of butts in his youth.

So why don’t cigarette butt litter campaigns work? Well, there’s a long list of reasons, and they all need to be looked at to reduce the likelihood of a cigarette butt ending up on the ground and not in a bin.

Bollard butt bin.
Can you tell this bollard is also a butt bin?

The first step was really looking at the point at which butts end up as litter – the flick – the action that we’ve been brainwashed in every cigarette smoking movie – is the cool way to get rid of a cigarette. This action becomes a habit surrounding an addiction, and in a lot of cases, smokers don’t even realise they are doing it. So, the Ditch the Flick campaign was designed to bring attention to the action that creates litter – the flick!

Next, we looked at what smokers are offered in public spaces to put their finished butts in, and there weren’t a lot of appealing options. From bins that councils try to hide in the shape and colours of bollards, to badly designed bins that actually drop the butts onto the floor when they are emptied, to the damaged and vandalised bins all over CBD areas where people have broken into them to find butts that still have a couple of puffs left. We decided that the current offerings of cigarette butt bins needed a lot of work to ensure that they actually get used.  

With the help of our ex-smoker staff member Brett Tait, Tangaroa Blue Director Tom Godfrey, Brand Designer James Hodgson, David Smith Design and the teams at Combined Metal Fabrication in Townsville, we are excited to launch the new Tangaroa Blue Cigarette Butt Bin!

Design images of the butt bins.
A funnel design allows for better capturing of butts. The wraps around the bins identify them as butt bins.

Designed to make it easy to stub out and dispose in one action, the unique funnel design opening at the top reduces the likelihood of the butt not making it into the bin. However, the biggest difference to this new bin is that smokers can see it as a butt bin from a couple of hundred metres! No more confusion as to where to butt out, because the bin is designed to actually look like a cigarette butt!

Now we know that the landscape designers and town planners amongst you are reading this with a look of horror on your face. How could you put something so ugly as a cigarette butt on display in a public space? Well, for starters, we don’t think it looks ugly with our sleek design, and we would argue that a whole heap of butts all over the ground is way uglier than a bin that looks like a cigarette butt!

Bin in place.
The butt bin in place with footprints leading to it.

We are super excited to be launching our new butt bin design with our partners at the Queensland Country Bank Stadium in Townsville at the start of this year’s NRL season on February 20th, 2021, where we have agreed on an ambitious, but achievable goal of reducing cigarette butt litter around the stadium during events by 50%.

Keep checking in to see how we are going, and if you’re interested in installing one of our cigarette butt bins in your venue, workplace or public space, send through an email at and we can provide further details.

ReefClean is funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

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