Cigarette filter
Pocket ashtray
Environmental Protection

Waste in the environment is a global problem. Littering is often caused by thoughtlessness and a lack of responsibility or due to missing disposal options. In addition to fast food packaging, chewing gum and bulky waste, cigarette waste also pollutes the environment in many places, as not all smokers dispose of their cigarette waste properly in rubbish bins when outside.. Many smokers are not even aware that they are polluting the environment and committing an offence.


Current Situation

Single-Use Plastic Fund

In order to curb environmental pollution caused by single-use plastics, a European strategy for the reduction of plastic waste was developed at EU level in 2018 and stipulated in the EU Directive on reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the envrionment.

In Germany, the statutory basis are the corresponding regulations in the Closed Substance Cycle Waste Management Act ( KrWG), which were promulgated in the Federal Law Gazette on 15 May 2023 in the Single-Use Plastics Fund Act ( EWKFondsG).

In the future, manufacturers of single-use plastic products, which also include cigarette filters, are to take on more responsibility for all waste disposed of in public spaces. Politically, this is intended to solve the problem of littering by unilaterally imposing responsibility on manufacturers and releasing consumers from their duty to dispose of waste correctly.

The manufacturers of cigarette filters are to bear the costs on a pro rate basis for waste disposal and street cleaning for all cigarette butts disposed of in public spaces. The tobacco industry is expected to contribute more than 160 million euros annually to public cleaning costs in Germany.

However, this in no way protects our environment. Simply redistributing the cleaning costs will not solve the problem of littering.

It should be noted that not producers but consumers carelessly throw away their waste. From the BVTE's point of view, the problem cannot be solved unilaterally, but only in cooperation with various stakeholders and with a wide range of measures – and only with a change in consumer behaviour. Most cigarette waste ends up in the environment mainly due to thoughtlessness. Raising consumer awareness for a cleaner environment therefore continues to be a key focus of our association's work.

More information on the BVTE environmental campaign

Single-Use Plastics Commission

A Single-Use Plastics Commission (EWK) was established at the Federal Environment Agency (UBA), which met for the first time in Berlin in September 2023. In the future, the commission will advise the UBA and make recommendations as part of the review and adjustment of the levy rates in accordance with the ordinance and when designing new studies.

Six industry associations are represented on the EWK on behalf of the manufacturers, including the BVTE on behalf of the entire tobacco and nicotine industry. Other members of the EWK are: the municipal waste management industry (Verband kommunaler Unternehmen e.V. (VKU), Deutscher Städte- und Gemeindebund, Deutscher Städtetag, Allianz der öffentlichen Wasserwirtschaft e.V. (AöW), Deutscher Naturschutzring (DNR) e.V. and Verbraucherzentrale Nordrhein-Westfalen e.V. for the consumer protection associations. Further information on the EWK can be found HERE.

Studies on Littering

In the run-up to the implementation of the EU Directive, littering studies on the costs of collecting and disposing of single-use plastic items in public spaces were taken into account. The littering study presented in August 2021 by Federal Minister for the Environment Svenja Schulze (SPD) and VKU President and Lord Mayor Michael Ebling (SPD) was heavily criticised. For example, the German Cigarette Association, a member of the BVTE, criticised the study as incomprehensible. In the opinion of the cigarette manufacturers' association, the study was and is unsuitable for basing far-reaching political decisions on it.  The detailed press release can be found HERE.

The engineering company pbo had determined in 2021 what quantities of cigarette waste were actually to be found in the various waste systems. According to the study, more than half of the cigarettes consumed in Germany were properly disposed of in household waste. In public waste, cigarette waste accounted for an average of 0.56% of the total quantity by weight. The study commissioned by the German Association of Local Public Utilities (VKU) determined a slightly higher proportion of around 1.3% of cigarette waste in public waste.

Both studies provided important base data for calculating the costs of future levies for manufacturers. While the results for the quantities of waste determined are still relatively close to each other, the situation is different when it comes to costs. According to the pbo study, even with very high estimated city cleaning costs of EUR 38.80 per capita per year, the maximum contribution of tobacco product manufacturers to city cleaning costs can be calculated at around EUR 24 million per year. In contrast, the VKU expects a disproportionately high annual cost sharing of 225 million euros. These very different results show that special emphasis must be placed on a transparent process with comprehensible for all parties involved when determining future costs.

You can find the pbo study HERE. A comparison of the two studies shows the differences HERE.



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.

Environmental Campaign

"Take care of the environment" campaign

The campaign page with the same name provides detailed information on the causes and consequences of littering, measures to protect the environment and the installation and disposal of cigarette filters and e-cigarettes. It is possible to order handy pocket ashtrays, flyers and printed posters via a shop page.

Waste in the environment affects the whole of society. Careless littering is often caused by thoughtlessness, a lack of awareness of the environmental pollution it causes and the offence committed, or simply a lack of disposal options. A single discarded cigarette may seem insignificant, but in total, cigarette waste is one of the most frequently discarded items in the world - and is becoming a problem.

The BVTE's "Mind the environment" campaign aims to help raise consumer awareness. After all, it is anything but sovereign to simply throw cigarette waste and rubbish anywhere in the environment. Waste should be disposed of responsibly in a rubbish bin or pocket ashtray.

E-cigarettes or caps/pods do not belong in household waste, but should be disposed of as electronic waste at a recycling centre or returned directly to a specialist retailer or the manufacturer. As a rule, rechargeable batteries, batteries or other components that contain harmful substances are labelled. The symbol of a crossed-out waste bin can be found on the devices themselves or on their packaging. Empty liquid bottles are household.

Legal Aspects

You can find all legal documents under Regulations”.