Tobacco Companies To Be Billed For The Cleanup of Cigarette Butts
In a new environmental regulation, Spain will now hold cigarette makers financially liable for the cleanup of discarded cigarettes from streets and beaches. This ruling is in line with the EU-wide waste-reduction drive.
The new ruling will take effect from 6th January. Tobacco companies are also mandated to remind their consumers not to throw used cigarettes here and there in the streets.
The details on how the authorities are going to bill the tobacco companies are not out yet. However, an estimate by the Zero Waste Society reveals that the companies might have to pay somewhere between €12 to €21 per smoker.
As is evident, most tobacco companies would pass on this extra expense to the consumers in the form of an increase in the prices of cigarettes. A section of the government thinks that this increased price is an effective deterrent against the use of tobacco.
Incentivizing the recycling of empty coke bottles by paying anyone a nominal amount of money for every empty bottle he or she brings to a recycling center is a nice way of keeping the streets clean. In Germany, customers need to pay a deposit of 25 cents for every plastic bottle they buy. This deposit is refunded once they return the bottle to the recycling plant. In Australia, customers get a refund of 10 cents for every returned bottle.
While the ruling in Spain does not talk about paying any refund to consumers if they don’t throw away their cigarette butts, it is a move in the right direction and paves way for a similar kind of recycling system.
Contrary to our intuition, it is cigarette butts that are the most common form of plastic pollution worldwide. We spoke to some Spanish nationals and they agree that despite having a robust garbage cleaning infrastructure and resources, the streets remain littered with discarded cigarettes even in parks and places that should otherwise be litter-free.
On one hand, these cigarette butts take more than 10 years to be decomposed, and on the other hand, they are filled with toxins like lead or arsenic. Cigarette butts lying around anywhere and everywhere are thus a severe health hazard.
Ban on Single-Use Cutlery As Well
As part of the same environmental regulation, Spain has banned single-use plastic cutlery, like plastic straws, buds, plastic plates, etc. Authorities are hopeful that the ban on single-use plastics is going to promote the usage of recyclable alternatives and reduce the amount of plastic waste in the streets.