On April 3rd, 2018, the Frenth minister for environmental transition, Brune Poirson, and Prime Minister Édouard Philippe presented their plan to establish liability of cigarette manufacturers regarding used cigarette filters and the pollution they cause.
Brune Poirson met with tobacco company representatives on June 14th. Her objective is to raise awareness in these groups of this critical, planet-wide issue. Described as an environmental plague, used cigarette filters are packed with chemical substances. A single “dog-end” can contaminate hundreds of litres of water. Keeping in mind the fact that they take 12 years to biodegrade and that 30 billion are disposed of every year in France, 40% of which end up in natural spaces, cigarette companies need to get involved.
Cigarette companies expected to commit to this issue
From city streets to rural landscapes, you can find dog-ends just about everywhere: on the beach, in the forest, in river beds, and even at the bottom of the ocean. Until now, collecting and sorting these waste products was the responsibility of local municipalities. Thus, the clean-up cost would fall on the average tax-payer. As a result, Brune Poirson is hoping to open channels of communication with cigarette companies and have them put together realistic action plans. There had already been plans to meet with the industry representatives as early as last September to discuss the issue.
With no real commitment, governments will have to implement an extended liability policy for manufacturers. This policy would force these companies to participate in collection and clean-up efforts, a proposal strongly contested by British American Tobacco communications director Éric Sensi-Minautier. Such a policy would not address the source of the problem, and consumers who actually pollute would be portrayed as helpless in the matter, when they are the main cause… Hopefully, this will motivate these industrial groups to find an eco-friendly solution!