According to a recent study by the European Commission , cigarette butts represent the most common plastic waste on our soil. Every year in France, no less than 21 billion cigarette butts are thrown on the ground . Today, actions for the fight against this scourge are multiplying and new players are appearing. Since the implementation of the AGEC law (anti-waste for a circular economy), cigarette manufacturers now have the obligation to finance the collection of cigarette butts .
Cigarette butt collection, a significant cost for communities
The collection of cigarette butts on the public highway as well as on the beaches is currently taken care of by the communities via the various cleanliness services. According to the Association of Cities for Urban Cleanliness, this collection mission is financed by local taxes, with an annual cost of around €40 per inhabitant . The average annual cost of cleaning per kilometer is estimated at €13,000 and can reach €100,000 for large cities. For example, the annual cost for cleaning the Greater Lyon is 55 million euros per year! From this alarming observation, the principle ofExtended Producer Responsibility , which is already in place in many other sectors, has recently been implemented in the cigarette butt sector.
The accountability of tobacco manufacturers: the polluter-pays principle
In France, the waste management sector has existed for more than 30 years and involves two responsibilities, which are those of the consumer and the producer. For the consumer, to dispose of their waste in the appropriate containers. For manufacturers, to mobilize through eco-design, waste management at several levels: collection, sorting and recycling of the products they put on the market.
Since August 10, 2021, manufacturers must now finance the collection of their cigarette butts. The objective is to achieve a significant reduction in cigarette butts thrown on the ground. The creation of the first eco-organization dedicated to the reduction of cigarette butts on public roads has therefore been validated by the Ministry of Ecological Transition. Thus named Alcome , this eco-organization which is today responsible for the cigarette butts sector benefits from funds which are distributed by the manufacturers of cigarettes whose filters of the latter contain cellulose acetate. This is the plastic that makes up the filters. The amount of these funds is proportional to the number of filters produced by the tobacco companies.
Thus, the eco-participation that is collected now allows communities to facilitate the organization of cleaning operations, but also campaigns aimed at raising awareness among smokers of the ecological impact of cigarette butts. Alcome also wishes to finance the distribution of pocket ashtrays to limit the throwing of cigarette butts on our soil.
Raising awareness among smokers
In addition to carrying out concrete actions while mobilizing tobacco manufacturers, it is very important to raise awareness of the consequences of the polluting gesture that is throwing cigarette butts on the ground. In addition to the high cost that this generates for communities, it is above all an act that has a strong impact on the environment and our quality of life, which is costly both for communities and for nature.
In parallel with the new measures put in place by the State, concrete solutions have already existed for several years within many communities and companies:
- Installation of ashtrays in street furniture dedicated to the collection and recycling of cigarette butts
- Implementation of awareness and communication campaigns for the general public
The objective set out in the specifications is to achieve a reduction in the presence of cigarette butts on public roads ranging from 20 to 30% by 2025. This year, the budget planned for the tobacco companies is 10 million euros. The Ministry of Ecological Transition estimates that this budget will double each year and reach 80 million euros, an amount that is deemed necessary to achieve the objectives set by the Government.
Do not forget that a cigarette butt alone pollutes 500 L of water ! Good news for our environment and especially for our natural environments and our oceans!