In France, tobacco manufacturers have yet to bring concrete solutions to the table for fighting against cigarette butt pollution. In Germany, however, a constructive dialogue has begun between public authorities and German cigarette manufacturers.
Tobacco products are already subject to a variety of strict regulations, in accordance with the European Commission’s directives. Starting in 2021, all of the European Union will be subject to strict laws about single-use plastic products, as the commission is hoping to reduce the negative effects of plastics on the environment. In particular, the new regulations will target cigarette filters, which contain cellulose acetate.
Germany’s Social Democratic Party is falling in line with the position of Brune Poirson, the Ecology and Solidarity Transition Project minister. Poirson hopes to implement a policy of dual responsibility that affects not only consumers but also manufacturers.
A major source of pollution
The European parliament and the Member State Council met on Wednesday, December 19, 2018, in Brussels. After an entire night of discussions, they were able to reach an agreement, which should lead to the adoption of a new regulatory text at the beginning of 2019, which will then be put into action over the next two years.
In terms of cigarette filters, tobacco manufacturers will play a significant part in covering costs related to pollute and pay regulations. Notably, manufacturers will be responsible for costs related to collecting and recycling cigarette waste.
We know that cigarette butts can take up to 15 years to biodegrade, and that cigarettes account for 30-40% of all trash in public streets. Consequently, it is essential that something be done, and quickly: the European directive hopes to reduce the amount of cigarette butts in the streets by 50% by 2025, and by 80% by 2030.
In the meantime, public awareness is increasing thanks to information campaigns in Germany as well as in other European countries. From handing out free pouches to discard cigarette butts at the beach and at ski resorts, information campaigns printed on cigarette packets, and significant fines for smokers who throw their cigarette butts in the streets, the promotion of actionable ecological solutions is becoming standardized throughout the European Union.