Not all smokers dispose of their cigarette butts properly when they smoke on the street or in parks. Often, this happens because of thoughtlessness or a lack of disposal facilities. Many smokers are not even aware that they are polluting the environment and committing an administrative offence.
Politically, the problem is being framed by unilaterally imposing the responsibility for discarded cigarette waste on the manufacturers and releasing consumers from their obligation to dispose of waste correctly. In the future, the manufacturers of cigarette filters are to bear the costs of waste disposal and street cleaning for all cigarette butts disposed of in public areas. This was stipulated in the EU directive on the reduction of the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. In Germany, these regulations are to be implemented within the Waste Management Act (KrWG) ( Links).
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The filter is an important component of tobacco products. It filters out toxic substances from tobacco smoke and is needed to comply with the legally permitted maximum levels of tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide in smoke. The currently used filters are made of the bioplastic cellulose acetate. Although this material is completely biodegradable, it decomposes very slowly. Depending on the environmental conditions it takes between a few months and several years. For comparison: Petrochemically manufactured plastic products, such as plastic bottles, need up to 400 years to decompose.
The environmental pollution problem can only be solved sustainably by raising awareness and changing consumer behaviour. The BVTE and its member companies are willing to do their part and have been trying to sensitize consumers to this problem for many years. Providing "pocket ashtrays" is an important component of this.
The industry is working on labels and information on packages meant to remind consumers to dispose of waste properly.
In addition, the BVTE is planning a campaign that will provide collection containers/ bins for cigarette butts.
Cigarette waste must not pollute our environment!
We are campaigning for awareness and changes in consumer behaviour as well as a more consistent enforcement of existing regulatory provisions in order to solve the problem sustainably. Higher waste fees for the manufacturers or even the introduction of a deposit system for butts are rejected. It is also up to cities and municipalities to improve their local infrastructure (waste bins for cigarette butts).
Together with their suppliers, the manufacturers are also working on alternative materials. The innovation capacities of manufacturers should not be weakened by additional fees, but promoted, for example, through standards and specifications for better environmental properties of products.