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.
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.
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.
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 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.
In 2021, an estimated 1,146,000 cigarette butts were collected and recycled, according to WeCircular, more than twice the number in 2020.