Stop throwing butts on the street!

The City of Brussels has a big plan for cigarette butts that are thrown on the street. In addition to raising awareness and installing urban ashtrays, the plan includes an increase in fines and a partnership for recycling collected cigarette butts.

To mark the 2nd edition of the 'Week against Discarded Cigarette Butts' (from 9 to 15 October 2023), the City is stepping up its efforts to raise awareness. In addition to cigarette waste, it is now adding waste from single-use electronic cigarettes. Programme of the week: distribution of pocket ashtrays, events and awareness-raising in the streets and among shopkeepers, placement of urban ashtrays,...

30 percent of the litter in the streets of Brussels consists of cigarette butts. The Cleaning Service has to clean up thousands of them every day. And because they are so small and often surrounded by paving stones, they make the work of street sweepers extra difficult.

Environmental hazard

Cigarette butts also make the public space look dirty and they pose a danger to the environment. Throwing a butt on the ground takes barely a second, but its breakdown time varies between 10 and 15 years. During that time, their more than 4,000 chemical components can cause enormous damage to the environment, especially if they also end up in the sewer system. For example, they could be taken to the sea, where a single cigarette butt can pollute up to 500 liters of water.

Raising awarenes and ashtrays

The plan of the City raised awareness in a first phase through a poster campaign, flyers and street campaigns such as handing out pocket ashtrays. Furthermore, a network of public ashtrays was installed and clearly visible signs were placed on existing garbage cans with ashtrays and a extinguishing system.

Poster of the butt campaign


If, despite these measures, people still throw their butt on the ground or in the sewers, the City will act with increased fines.


The City is also working with the Belgian start-up External site We Circular to recycle the collected butts. The recovered plastic then serves as a raw material for 3D printers that make pocket ashtrays from it. WeCircular empties the public ashtrays in Laeken (40) and recovers the butts collected by street sweepers in the city centre.

The City of Brussels is committed to sustainable management of cigarette butts by installing ashtrays and collecting and recycling butts in a green way. In this way, it conserves natural resources and limits its impact on the environment:

Diploma in recycling and environmental awareness (PDF, 113.52 KB)

In 2023:

  • 1,320 litres of waste collected
  • approximately 528,000 recycled cigarette butts
  • 264,000 m³ of unpolluted water (the equivalent of about 70 Olympic-sized swimming pools)
Created on 12/11/2019 (modified on 26/09/2023)