SPAIN – The government of Spain has announced plans to introduce a clean-up cost on tobacco companies under Spanish environmental regulations, in line with the EU’s Single Use Plastic Directive (SUPD).
According to new environmental regulations which came into effect on January 6, tobacco businesses will now be required to pay for cleaning up the millions of cigarette ends that consumers throw away each year, as reported by The Guardian.
The new regulation also includes bans on single-use plastic cutlery, cotton buds, expanded polystyrene cups, and plastic straws, and cutting back on plastic food packaging.
The rulings are part of a European Union-wide drive to reduce waste and promote recycling.
To this effect, cigarette manufacturers will be required to remind and educate consumers not to throw away butts in public areas.
While the cost of clean-ups has not been revealed yet, a Catalan study by ‘zero waste society’ Rezero estimated the cost to be between €12-€21 per citizen per year – a total of up to €1 billion.
Cigarette companies are likely to transfer the cost to the consumer by increasing product prices, which could also work out as another incentive to quit.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost a fifth of every adult and adolescent in Spain smokes and the health, economic and environmental impact of tobacco use in the country is “substantial”.
Statistics from the Spanish health ministry have also revealed that lung cancer, which is often caused by smoking, is the country’s third most frequently diagnosed cancer, with 29,549 cases until November 2021, as per the Spanish outlet The Local.
In July last year, Spain introduced another measure to curb smoking by banning it on all of Barcelona’s public beaches, with offenders fined €30.
Made of plastic cellulose acetate, cigarette butts take at least 10 years to decompose and emit toxic substances like arsenic and lead as they break down.
According to the Ocean Conservancy NGO, cigarette butts are the most common form of marine pollution, more even than plastic bags and bottles, with an estimated 5 billion discarded in the ocean.
Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that approximately 4.5 trillion cigarette butts are thrown away annually.
“The tobacco industry is ultimately responsible for the environmental destruction caused by the production of cigarettes,” WHO states.
“An estimated 1.5 billion hectares of mainly tropical forest have been lost since the 1970s due to tobacco. It also has a deep impact on soil quality and water resources,”
“Tobacco products and production are highly damaging to people and the planet. The tobacco industry should also be held to account for tobacco waste and damages following production.”
For all the latest packaging and printing industry news from Africa and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.