Skip navigation

Greens plan to make tobacco companies clean up cigarette butt waste

12 January 2023

Tobacco companies will be made responsible for cleaning up cigarette butt waste in SA under a new Greens plan.

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]

“Cigarette butts are harmful to the environment and hazardous to our health. It’s time for big corporations like tobacco companies to be held to account for the damage they are doing to our environment. This is an opportunity for South Australia to further cement our place as a leader in waste reduction. This move would be a national first”, said Greens SA Spokesperson for Waste and the Circular Economy Robert Simms MLC.

The Greens plan to introduce a Private Members Bill this year to force cigarette companies to clean up cigarette butt waste and giving the government the power to penalise companies that do not comply.

The move comes as Spain has introduced new rules that make cigarette manufacturers responsible for collecting discarded butts as well as transporting them for waste treatment. Ireland is considering similar legislation.

The cost of cleaning up tobacco-related litter in Australia has been estimated at $73 million per year.[4]

Last year Mr Simms introduced legislation to protect food businesses that allow customers to bring their own containers and moved to introduce labelling for the lifespan of electrical products to reduce waste.