The German Association of the Tobacco Industry and New Products (BVTE) presents itself as responsible in terms of environmental protection since may 2021. With its campaign „Take care of the environment“ and its related website, the association is dedicated to the topic of littering and the proper disposal of cigarette butts.
Using slogans like ‘I smoke – and care about the environment’ and ‘Responsibility – together for the world’ as well as ‘Environmental protection – everyone counts’, the campaign clearly communicates its appeal to the individual responsibility of smokers.
The website offers information on causes and consequences of littering, on measures to protect the environment and on the disposal of cigarette filters. Furthermore, the campaign includes educational flyers, various poster motifs, the sponsoring of butt collection bins for particularly polluted ‘hot spots’ as well as give-away pocket ashtrays. In cooperation with the „Association of Beach Chair Rentals in the Federal State of Schleswig-Holstein“, pocket ashtrays have been distributed for free to all beach chair guests along the coast of Schleswig-Holstein since the 2021 season.
In addition, the BVTE supports committed cleanup initiatives and actors in the collection of cigarette waste in the environment throughout Germany, in cooperation with the company sauber.io. The use of a handy vacuum cleaner from this company is supposed to facilitate the work of various cleanup initiatives. BVTE also provides its give-away pocket ashtrays for these initiatives for widespread distribution.
Right on the top of their campaign website the association emphasizes
“We at the BVTE are looking for reasonable ways of working together with all stakeholders – consumers, manufacturers and politicians – to better protect our environment. Not least by raising smokers’ awareness of properly disposing of cigarette butts.”Campaign website BVTE
However, it quickly becomes clear that this is first and foremost about the last point, sensitizing consumers, and also BVTE’s executive director Jan Mücke refers to the „few smokers who do not discard their waste properly” as the target group.
Thus, the BVTE counters and anticipates the envisaged legal solution to the problem and attempts to reduce its own future costs. In fact, the EU’s Directive on single-use plastics and its foreseen legal implementation in Germany include the so called Extended Producer Responsibility: in the future, the producers are to bear a proportion of waste disposal costs for all cigarette butts littered in public spaces. In addition it is stipulated that producers also cover the costs of awareness raising measures regarding the littering of their products.