Spring has arrived, and while many people look forward to the blossoming of trees and the sounds of birds, others notice a more unpleasant sign: cigarette butts littering the thawing snowbanks. However, in Spain, a new initiative is giving hope for a cleaner future. The government has passed new rules that will charge cigarette manufacturers for picking up discarded cigarette butts, collecting an estimated close to a billion Euros. This is an excellent example of extended producer responsibility (EPR), where producers take financial and physical responsibility for the treatment or disposal of post-consumer products.
The impact of discarded cigarette butts is enormous, with trillions ending up in the environment each year. Cigarette butts break down into microplastics, release toxic chemicals, and are often consumed by wildlife. They are the most littered item found on beaches worldwide. Spain is making moves to combat the problem, with over 525 beaches made smoke-free in 2021.
The government of Catalonia also proposed a 20-cent deposit on every cigarette butt, similar to the deposit system for plastic bottles and aluminum cans in New York City. This system would not only keep streets cleaner but could also provide an income for the homeless. Deposits on cigarette butts could be a game-changer in eliminating litter and solving the problems of recycling. Perhaps it’s time for other cities to follow in Spain’s footsteps and put deposits on cigarette butts to create a cleaner and healthier environment for all.
Source article: Treehugger