New research estimates 10 billion cigarette butts littered around NZ

The most detailed audit ever done on litter in New Zealand has revealed some shocking results. Cigarette butts make up almost 80 per cent of all litter in New Zealand.

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The project took five months to complete. Source: 1 NEWS

The project, conducted by not-for-profit organisation Keep New Zealand Beautiful, took five months to complete.

With the help of the Department of Conservation, Statistics NZ and the Ministry of Environment, two leading researchers pegged out areas across the country and calculated their litter content.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful's chief executive, Heather Saunderson, says the results are frustrating.

"The research estimates 10 billion cigarettes are littered across the country. That equates to 2142 cigarette butts per New Zealander."

She says the worst part is half of all littering happens within five metres of a bin.

"I think most people view New Zealand as clean and green, and for the most part it is. But if you go to your local park, or car park, or retail centre you'll see litter there behind the bushes. It moves with the wind."

It's not just cigarette butts stinking out our public places. One volunteer for the organisation says at times she's picked up used nappies, condoms and tampons.

Michelle Stronach-March sometimes picks up to a thousand pieces every week in her Petone neighbourhood.

"It's not necessarily about dropping litter, it's about people just being a little bit careless. I think we all have to take responsibility," she told 1 NEWS.

Keep New Zealand Beautiful's set to unveil its full results tomorrow. Ms Saunderson says she hopes Kiwis will stop and think about their own behaviour when it comes to dealing with their waste.