ASH Wales welcomes an innovative scheme by Cardiff Council to tackle cigarette butt litter.
The council has installed five new cigarette butt bins on the city’s streets, with a humorous twist. Each offers smokers the chance to deposit their cigarette butt in one of two slots depending on their answer to polls such as ‘Cardiff Blues or Cardiff Devils’ and ‘Shirley Bassey or Tom Jones’.
At the end of each week the results of the polls will be posted on Cardiff Council’s social media platform and a fresh set of questions will then be asked.
The scheme, which is part of Cardiff Council’s ‘Love Where You Live’ campaign, is be piloted for a month and, while there is a fun side to the bins, the message behind the scheme is a serious one – cigarette butts are not biodegradable and pose a major threat to the environment.
Unbeknown to many smokers the butts are made from a form of plastic called cellulose acetate and can remain in the environment for up to 15 years. They are toxic and filled with deposits of tar and chemicals. If animals swallow them they cause poisoning, malnutrition and even death. Cigarette butts also pollute waterways and pose a major threat to marine life.
Councillor Michael Michael is Cabinet Member for Clean Streets, Recycling and Environment at Cardiff Council. He said: “It is estimated that across the UK 122 tonnes of smoking related litter are dropped every day. This mess is time consuming to clean up and costs the tax payer millions of pounds each year.
“We are not encouraging people to smoke, but what we are doing is encouraging those that that do to dispose of their cigarette ends responsibly.
“It is also worth stressing that cigarettes are not biodegradable but are made of a type of plastic which means they can stay in the environment for up to 15 years and have deadly consequences for wildlife.”
A Keep Wales Tidy report published earlier this year, showed that cigarettes are the most littered items in the country, with butts found on 80.3 per cent of Welsh Streets. And according a recent survey carried out by the organisation, less than half of smokers know that cigarettes contain plastic, one in ten smokers do not consider cigarette butts to be litter and ten per cent think they are biodegradable.
Suzanne Cass, Chief Executive Officer of ASH Wales, said: “We welcome any initiative that aims to tackle the problem of cigarette butt litter in Wales.
“The scale of the threat cigarettes pose to the environment cannot be underestimated. Tackling cigarette litter has been a key element behind ASH Wales successfully campaigning for every council in Wales to introduce smoke free playgrounds and three of Wales’s most beautiful beaches becoming smoke-free. We will continue to push for smoke free spaces across the country including school gates, universities and sports grounds.
“It is encouraging to hear that Cardiff Council is taking action to tackle this problem in an innovative way and we hope the pilot is a success.”
Information on how to quit smoking is available on the ASH Wales Cymru website or the Choose Smokefree Facebook page. Help Me Quit is the national smoking cessation service run by NHS Wales and helps smokers to find the service that suits them best. Contact the service on 0800 085 2219. To find out more visit who-can-help-me.