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Litter: Tobacco

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 21398, tabled on 26 February 2020

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent assessment he has made of the effectiveness of litter-related activities by major tobacco companies to tackle tobacco litter.

Answered on

9 March 2020

The Government has made no specific recent assessment of the UK tobacco industry’s contribution to tackling smoking-related litter. We would like to see the tobacco industry delivering on the commitment given by the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association to tackle the litter created by its products and their users. The Government supports ongoing efforts by environmental organisation Keep Britain Tidy to work in partnership with the tobacco industry to devise a voluntary scheme through which the industry can contribute to the clean-up of cigarette related litter, and is watching this space with interest. However, this must be achieved without breaching the UK’s international obligations, such as protecting our tobacco control and public health policies from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry in accordance with the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Tobacco packaging is covered by the current producer responsibility regulations, which require companies to recycle a proportion of the packaging waste they place on the market. They will also be subject to the forthcoming extended producer responsibility (EPR) scheme for packaging which will cover the full net costs of managing packaging at its end of life. In our consultation we proposed that producer fees should cover the full cost to local authorities of dealing with littered and fly-tipped packaging waste.

In the Resources and Waste Strategy, we committed to looking into and consulting on EPR for five new waste-streams by 2025, and consulting on two of these by 2022. Waste tobacco filters were not included in this list of priorities but progress on the industry's voluntary approach to litter reduction will be monitored.

The EU’s Single-Use Plastics Directive includes measures to implement an EPR scheme for tobacco products with filters, and filters marketed for use in combination with tobacco products, which should cover the costs of awareness raising, data gathering and litter clean-up of these products.

Now that the UK has left the EU, the Government will use this opportunity to refresh and renew our environmental policy. In the Resources and Waste Strategy, we committed to meeting or exceeding the ambition of the EU Directive, and we will do this in a way that works best for the UK’s aspirations in this policy area.