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Ursula van Eck stoops to examine a new mushroom. Then her admiration turns to abhorrence as she catches sight of a cigarette butt lying close by. The small, impromptu cleanup that follows is in accordance with long-term goals that Van Eck has for the environment.

One of those goals involves the butt that so annoyed her. Recycling cigarette butts and plastic is among the projects of ocean-i, a company she started two years ago. US environmental organisation Ocean Conservancy says that of all the rubbish thrown into the sea, cigarette butts are the most numerous. And according to the EU, butts are the second-most common form of single-use plastic found on European beaches...

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