KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Marinas along the Tennessee rivers are getting art-wrapped waste bins to keep the waterways beautiful and cigarette butts out of the rivers.
A project called "Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful" is installing 150 bins along the river in five states. According to the group, cigarettes are the most littered items. Not only that, the Tennessee River is the most plastic-polluted river in the world.
The Executive Director of the project, Kathleen Gibi, said the filters in cigarettes are particularly harmful.
"These filters are filled with tiny plastic fibers. So, as soon as they get into the water and break down, it never truly biodegrades. You've just got little plastic fibers floating in the water," Gibi said.
Later, stand-up cigarette receptacles will be installed along boat ramps as well. These smaller, art-wrapped bins will be installed on land, in prominent places.
Gibi said that many marinas do not allow smoking, so nearby areas are littered with cigarette butts.
"80% of the litter in the waterway, was originally on land. Either winds or rain pushed it into the waterways," Gibi said.