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Greens move on cigarette butt waste

9 February 2023

Tobacco companies would be responsible for the management of cigarette butt waste in South Australia, under a new Greens bill introduced into State Parliament yesterday afternoon.

Under the new law, cigarette companies would be required to establish a deposit scheme for cigarette butt waste (similar to the Container Deposit Scheme that relates to cans and bottles) to ensure that their waste is disposed of appropriately.

“South Australians are sick and tired of seeing cigarette butts littering their streets, beaches and other public spaces. It’s time for big corporations, like tobacco companies to be held to account for the waste they produce. These days cigarette butts can be recycled and used for a diverse range of products, including bricks and insultation. My Private Members Bill requires tobacco companies to have an appropriate Waste Management Scheme in place before their product can be sold in our state,” said Greens Spokesperson for the Circular Economy Robert Simms MLC.

“I hope all parties in the parliament join the Greens in backing this common sense move to reduce waste,” he said.

In South Australia, cigarette butts are the most common item found on Clean Up Australia Day and by KESAB (Keep South Australia Beautiful).[1] It is estimated that up to 50% of cigarette butts end up as litter.[2] Cigarette filters can leak toxins and carcinogens and may take over a decade to decompose.[3] The cost of cleaning up tobacco-related litter in Australia has been estimated at $73 million per year.[4]

Spain has recently introduced new laws making cigarette manufacturers responsible for collecting discarded butts and transporting them for waste treatment.