Spain has unveiled a new package of rules to tackle the problem of plastic pollution. In line with the regulations, the government will reportedly force tobacco companies to foot the bill for cleaning up cigarette butts, a prolific yet underappreciated source of environmental pollution.
The Spanish Government approved the Royal Decree on Packaging and Packaging Waste on December 27. This is a set of measures to reduce the production of packaging waste and boost the recycling of plastics. It involves a larger initiative in the European Union aiming to make producers responsible for cleaning up the pollution they create.
According to the Guardian, new measures will also apply to tobacco companies, meaning they will be obliged to pay for the cost of cleaning up cigarette butts. They will also be responsible for educating the public about how to appropriately chuck away their butts in public spaces.
Cigarettes can be a pain for the environment due to their filters, which are often made of plastic cellulose acetate fiber that’s non-biodegradable. Considering that 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are disposed of annually – two-thirds are improperly disposed of – the scale of the problem is huge. Some estimates suggest that up to 40 percent of all litter found in coastal and urban litter clean-ups is cigarette filters.