Significantly reduce the number of cigarette butts discarded in public spaces
17. Installing urban ashtrays in problematic locations to prevent cigarette butt littering.
Identifying strategic locations where public ashtrays should be installed to collect cigarette butts and stop them being discarded on the ground.
Ballot Bins to collect cigarette butts from smokers on the streets
Stromae or Angèle? Liège waffles or speculoos biscuits? Smokers in Etterbeek have been able to vote with their cigarette butt since 2016. Rather than tossing it on the ground, they are invited to answer questions – some light-hearted, others more thought-provoking – at these ashtrays or ‘Ballot Bins’ throughout the municipality. This ‘nudge’ is inspired by cities such as London and Madrid, and replaces an antisocial behaviour with something that’s fun to do. On the practical side of things, the Bins are emptied by municipal workers. The questions change, sometimes with suggestions from residents, and the ashtrays are moved several times a year to keep things interesting.
An initiative of the municipality of Etterbeek
18. Setting up non-smoking areas and keeping smoking areas away from high-traffic locations such as public transport stops and around schools.
Considering the possibility of setting up specific areas for smokers close to high-traffic areas and near waiting points, such as public transport stops, green spaces and around schools. Considering a smoking ban in certain public places.
19. Increasing the distribution of pocket ashtrays at large events and in high-traffic strategic locations.
Widening the distribution of pocket ashtrays to smokers at large events and in strategic locations that are very busy or sensitive to litter or environmental risks
Bruxelles-Propreté’s communication service runs awareness-raising initiatives on the subject of cigarette butts. During these initiatives, one team-member walks around with a giant representation of a cigarette butt, while another engages with smokers to make them aware of the problem of dropping cigarette butts on the ground. A pocket ashtray is given free of charge to the smokers who are encountered.
In the course of these initiatives, Bruxelles-Propreté distributed 35,750 pocket ashtrays between November 2019 and November 2022. A further 1,100 ashtrays were distributed during the Brussels Environment #WeArePark campaign. Initiatives to distribute pocket ashtrays also exist at the level of the Brussels municipalities.
An initiative of Bruxelles-Propreté
20. Informing the public about the toxic composition of cigarette butts and their harmful impact on the environment, water, plants and animals. Also providing information about the fines for discarding cigarette butts on the ground.
Providing more information about the toxicity of cigarette butts and their harmful effects on the environment, water, animals and plant growth when discarded. This can be achieved through various channels, including anti-smoking organisations such as the ASBL Fares. In this connection, providing reminders about the amounts of fines for dropping this non-biodegradable waste on the ground.
The non-profit organisation FARES raises smokers’ awareness of the environmental and aquatic pollution caused by cigarette butts. Their message is:
A cigarette butt littered on the street or in natural areas will take several years to disappear completely. During this time, the toxic filter, filled with plastic particles and contaminating chemical compounds, will pollute up to 500 litres of water. The reality is that each cigarette butt carelessly discarded wastes ten showers’ worth of water!
Meanwhile, the City of Brussels has launched its ‘anti-cigarette-butts plan’ to encourage responsible behaviour in smokers and educate the public. This plan includes awareness-raising initiatives and the installation of urban ashtrays, as well as increased fines and the establishment of a partnership to recycle the cigarette butts that are collected. On 17 October 2022, the City launched the first edition of the ‘Week against discarded cigarette butts’. The week was filled with activities to spread information and raise public awareness of the problem of cigarette butts being littered in public spaces.
Find more information at https://www.brussels.be/stop-throwing-butts-street
An initiative of the municipality of FARES and the City of Brussels