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Litter: Tobacco

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN 188108, tabled on 27 April 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what steps his Department is taking to tackle tobacco waste litter.

Answered on

29 April 2021

We believe that the tobacco industry must take responsibility for the litter created by their products. Our most recent composition survey found cigarette butts represent 66% of all littered items, and preliminary research has shown an estimated cost to UK local authorities and other duty bodies of £40 million per year for the collection and disposal of littered cigarette butts, rising to £46 million when including those disposed of in public bins.

Last year, I met with tobacco industry representatives and asked them to consider what more they could to address smoking related litter and whether a voluntary producer responsibility scheme could be developed for tobacco waste products.

Having considered further evidence, the Government has now decided that a regulatory approach may now be required to ensure that the industry takes sufficient financial responsibility for the litter created by its products and to prevent them from undermining public health policy.

We plan to commission new research into regulatory options this year, including consideration of extended producer responsibility principles.

The Environment Bill will allow us to legislate for extended producer responsibility schemes, which could be applied to tobacco products. Cigarette and tobacco product packaging is already covered by the proposed packaging producer responsibility scheme, which is currently undergoing a second phase of consultation.