Tobacco: Litter

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 17th March 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what specific tests they plan to use to determine whether or not tobacco industry plans for a voluntary approach to preventing littering of cigarette filters will be sufficient; and what plans they have to assess such plans against the potential benefits of a mandatory extended producer responsibility scheme.

Photo of Baroness Hayman of Ullock Baroness Hayman of Ullock Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the costs incurred by local authorities in dealing with cigarette butts when littered or disposed of in public bins; what that cost is estimated to be; and what is the basis on which any such cost has been calculated.

Photo of Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

We believe that the tobacco industry must take responsibility for the litter created by its products. Our most recent composition survey found cigarette butts represent 66% of all littered items.

Preliminary research has shown an estimated cost to UK local authorities and other duty bodies of £40m per annum for the collection and disposal of littered cigarette butts, rising to £46m when including those disposed of in public bins. This has been drawn from an analysis of local authority spend on litter using local authority revenue outturns, litter composition studies across the UK and local authority surveys and interviews. This research is undergoing quality assurance and will be published in due course.

We have made clear that we will continue to monitor the available evidence on smoking related litter and that if it continues to be a significant environmental concern we will reflect on the steps Government can take to ensure that the tobacco industry takes more responsibility. Measures in the Environment Bill will allow us to legislate for an extended producer responsibility scheme for tobacco products, if such an intervention was considered necessary.

Cigarette and tobacco product packaging will be covered by the upcoming reforms to the packaging producer responsibility scheme.

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