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South Australia proposes to take further action on cigarette waste

cigarette butt waste

South Australian Greens MP Robert Simms has introduced a new motion to the State Parliament to take further action on cigarette waste.

Having already introduced a Bill in 2023 to address the issue of cigarette butt waste, Simms tabled a new motion on 15 May, reflecting some of the advancements in Australia and around the world in the past year.

Noting the recent consultation in New South Wales on tobacco filters, the recent decision adopted by COP10 of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) to act on protecting the environment from tobacco products, as well as efforts around the world, from countries such as Spain and San Francisco, Simms is looking for South Australia to push forward Australia’s response to the issue of cigarette butt waste.

As the most littered item in South Australia and around the world, a little known fact is that cigarette butts are actually made from plastic. More than one third of cigarette butts end up in waterways and they are acutely toxic in the marine environment. When littered, they leach toxic chemicals and can pollute 40 litres of water per cigarette butt.

Shannon Mead, the Founder and Executive Director of No More Butts (an environmental charity dedicated to tobacco waste), was recently at the fourth Plastics Treaty negotiations in Canada, where there is a growing number of countries calling for a ban on cigarette filters as part of the Treaty. However, with uncertainty on the elements and timing of implementation of the agreement, Mead said domestic actions are still considered critical to address the impacts of cigarette butt litter.

Mead said although the World Health Organization and many environmental organisations support a ban on cigarette filters, any measure taken to reduce the impact on the environment would be welcomed, including Extended Producer Responsibility schemes.

“Approximately half of cigarette smokers opt to litter their butt into the environment. Unfortunately, this means that 100 per cent of ratepayers are paying the price of cleaning up the mess caused by only five per cent of our population,” he said.

As part of the motion, Simms wants the SA Government to raise the matter of cigarette butt waste with the national and state environment ministers when they meet next.

“We look forward to working with all parties in South Australia, as well as other states and federal governments from around the world, including the Commonwealth to take action on the world’s most littered item”.

The debate on the motion was adjourned.

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