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Litter: Tobacco

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL15154, tabled on 21 April 2021

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to establish regulatory mechanisms for imposing extended producer responsibility on the tobacco industry; and how any such plans will ensure the industry takes financial responsibility for the costs associated with discarded cigarette butts.

Answered on

29 April 2021

New research conducted by Eunomia for Defra and the Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) indicates that cleaning up littered cigarette butts currently costs litter authorities in the UK around £40 million per year, rising to £46 million when including those disposed of in public bins.

We have recently announced our intention to explore regulatory options to ensure that the tobacco industry takes sufficient financial responsibility for the toxic litter created by its products. Supported by the Department of Health and Social Care, Defra is now actively exploring the suitability of regulatory options to reduce tobacco litter and we plan to conduct further research this year.

This research will help inform next steps and we therefore cannot yet confirm a timescale. The Government will continue to work closely with stakeholders to address the issue. Government policy in this area must be developed in accordance with the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) and its guidelines.

The Environment Bill will allow us to legislate for extended producer responsibility schemes, which could include requiring cigarette producers to pay the full disposal costs of products or materials that they place on the market, including littered cigarette butts.

Cigarette and tobacco product packaging will already be covered by the reforms to the packaging producer responsibility scheme, which are currently open for consultation.