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Last week, a new environmental legislation went into effect which makes tobacco companies obliged to pay for the cleanup of the millions of cigarette butts thrown away by smokes every year. This new decision is part of a package of waste-reduction and recycling efforts the country is putting into effect.
This new legislation is in line with a new European Union directive which is set to limit the use of single-use plastic and it requires polluters to clean up after themselves. The cigarette producers will have to teach the public about the dangers of throwing away their cigarette butts in public places. Right now it's unclear how the cleanup will be carried out and how much it will cost.
The Guardian writes that “one Catalan study put the cost at between €12 - €21 per citizen per annum, a total of up to €1bn (£880m).” According to the article, the Catalan government proposed earlier this year that “cigarette butts could be redeemed for €0.20 each, which would add €4 to the current average price of €5 for a pack of 20.” However, this raise hasn’t yet been introduced.
Cigarette butts take about 10 years to degrade and they release harmful chemicals such as lead and arsenic during the process. Sadly, it’s one of the most common types of litter. According to Ocean Conservancy, a non-profit organization, cigarette ends are also one of the most common kinds of marine pollution as well and estimates about 5 billion ends up in the ocean.
In order to tackle this issue further, Spain has around 500 smoke-free beaches to protect the public health as well as the ocean and its ecosystem.