Saturday, February 4, 2023

Tobacco growers will have to collect cigarette filters from January 6

The great innovation in tobacco for this start of the year has not come from the Ministry of Health, as would be expected from the body that ensures the health of all, but from the Ministry of Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenges, through an environmental regulation , can make a big difference in the fight against smoking.

Three Kings Day would come with a gift for the town hall and by extension for the citizens. Tobacco holders will no longer be permanent relics adorning streets, gardens, parks and beaches. Or, at least, that’s what the law should be about. On 6 January, regulations are to be published detailing that tobacco manufacturers must take charge of the collection of cigarette filters that fill all the slots.

Filters contain cellulose acetate, a plastic that is very harmful to the environment

This is stated in the Law on Waste and Contaminated Soil which came into force last April and which bans the marketing of utensils such as plastic, cutlery, plates, straws or drink containers made of expanded polystyrene such as cotton swabs. And which establishes that from this January 6th, tobacco manufacturers should not only take charge of cleaning the streets of this waste, but also inform and spread awareness that filters cannot be thrown on the ground.

Cigarette Butts On The Ground On The Roof Of A Bar

cigarette butts on the ground on the roof of a bar

LV / Ana Jimenez

Why? The mouthpiece contains cellulose acetate, a plastic that is very harmful to the environment. Because filters take time to break down and, when they do, they release pollutants they’ve absorbed from the smoke: nicotine, arsenic, lead… elements that would end up in the fish’s stomach are when they consume those cigarette butts, thinking it is food, says Foundation Aqua.

The solution to eliminate cigarette butts from natural and urban environments is an invention of Europe, not of the Spanish government. According to the relevant Single-use Plastics Directive, cigarette holders are the second most common single-use plastic item found on beaches in the European Union.

The Rejeiro Foundation estimates that every year Catalan municipalities face street cleaning costs of cigarette butts that range between 12 and 21 euros per resident.

This waste, which is usually disposed of in an uncontrolled manner, causes a major environmental impact. For this reason, the Directive calls on Member States to adopt measures “to reduce the dumping of waste dispersed by waste due to the consumption of tobacco products containing plastic filters”, including marking, the application of the extended responsibility regime Is. In the case of sensitization, the manufacturer or the works, indicates this instruction.

There is no clear data on the cost of removing tobacco filters from municipalities across Spain. But in a report focused on Catalonia, the Regero Foundation estimated that every year Catalan municipalities face street cleaning costs of cigarette butts, which range between 12 and 21 euros per resident, although coastal municipalities Costs the most.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Tobacco (CNPT) believes that manufacturers will pass on the cost of this cleaning to smokers.

These should include, inter alia, substances received from sewage treatment and water treatment plants where they accumulate. If the most conservative figures are used, the billing account for manufacturers would exceed 145 million euros per year in Spain.

The National Committee for the Prevention of Tobacco (CNPT) believes that manufacturers will pass the cost of this cleaning on to smokers, something that will have a clear impact on the fight against smoking. The unit defends that increasing the price of tobacco in any form reduces the number of smokers.

A report by the NGO Ocean Conservancy shows that cigarette butts are the main source of litter found in the oceans, even surpassing wrappers, bottles, caps and plastic bags.


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Begona Corzo Suarez

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