Thinking of the environment –
even when you’re smoking

Littering – whether cigarette butts, chewing gum or fast food packaging – is a global problem. Waste in the environment affects the whole society. Unfortunately, not all smokers on the go dispose of their cigarette waste carefully and neatly in litter bins. Careless discarding often simply stems from thoughtlessness or a lack of awareness that such behaviour pollutes the environment and constitutes an administrative offense or – what could be remedied even more easily: a lack of disposal options.
Throwing away one cigarette butt may seem insignificant, but taken together, cigarette butts make up the most frequently discarded items in the world – and become a problem.

What is „Littering“?


“Conventional” Cigarette filters consist of cellulose acetate, which is a bio-based plastic for which cellulose is modified through acetate groups. (Verlinkung zum Q&A einbauen). This is why cigarette waste is classified as plastic waste and also plays a role in plastic pollution of the earth. On Europe’s beaches, for example, 60% of waste is plastic: food and drinks packaging, plastic bags, caps and lids, and cotton swabs. In terms of weight, cigarette butts may not be that significant and only account for about 6% of all litter collected on beaches. However, within the category of plastic litter on beaches, they actually account for 20% of all plastic litter.

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Littering costs
all of us dear –
not only the environment

To curb environmental pollution from single-use plastic, a European strategy to reduce plastic waste was developed in 2018.

Cigarette waste also plays a role in plastic pollution and, when taken together, can become a major problem.

“If we don’t change the way we produce and use plastics, there will be more plastics than fish in our oceans by 2050,” said First Vice-President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans.

In the future, manufacturers of single-use plastic products, which include cigarette filters, are to take more responsibility for all cigarette waste disposed of in public spaces.

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Environmental protection concerns us all

Littering often happens carelessly and out of habit – and nothing is harder to change than habits. For this reason alone, there will be no quick solution and individual measures will not solve the problem. Only the combination of many instruments will ensure better environmental protection in the medium and long term. Only together will we be able to sustainably change the problem of littering: Producers, consumers, politicians and local authorities have a joint responsibility in this regard.

Producers and their suppliers are already working on alternative materials for filter production.

Cities and municipalities can provide more and better disposal facilities and sanction littering more severely as an administrative offence. Businesses can also provide suitable disposal facilities and keep their outdoor areas clean.

Policymakers can provide incentives for innovation, such as promoting norms and standards for better environmental properties and performances of products.

At the heart of littering, however, is the consumer. Therefore, the BVTE advocates increasing awareness and change in consumer behaviour.