5 Billion Cigarettes: Putting an End to Pollution of the Sea with Cigarette Butts

Call for proposals: Medium projects
Priority area: Strengthened civil society watchdog/advocacy role
Trajanje projekta: 1. 4. 2023–31. 3. 2024
Vrednost projekta: EUR 49.867,29

Cigarette butts are the most common waste found in nature. They represent the main pollutants of the sea with microplastics and toxins both on the Slovene and global coastlines. It is estimated that annually, around 4.5 billion cigarette butts are thrown across the globe. The main component of cigarette butts is plastic, specifically cellulose acetate. They also contain nicotine, heavy metals, and over 7,000 chemicals, out of which at least 250 are proven to be harmful to human health. Cigarette butts break down into microplastics in the sea, and they have been proven to be harmful to marine ecosystems. There are no progressive laws and strategies pertaining to cigarette butts at the European, national, and local levels that regulate the pace of such pollution and provide concrete methods for reducing this waste in the seas.

The Smetumet Cultural Ecological Association deals with topics, such as waste, sustainability, design, and cultural economy. We carry out projects aimed at raising awareness and encouraging activism, hold workshops and exhibitions, and organize other activities that aim to create a sustainable, waste-free future.

As part of the project dubbed 5 Billion Cigarettes: Putting an End to Pollution of the Sea with Cigarette Butts, we will carry out activities that address the problem comprehensively, tackle it from multiple angles, and foresee the involvement of citizens, municipalities, and national legislation. The legislative part of the project relates to developing a legislative proposal that would categorize tobacco and nicotine products as products subject to the obligation of extended producer responsibility. Currently, the said requirement pertains to waste batteries, electronic and electrical equipment, packaging, motor vehicles, tires, phytopharmaceutical agents, grave candles, and drugs. At the level of municipalities, we will develop cigarette-free coastline strategies for our seafront municipalities. At the level of raising awareness among people, we will work together with the creative industry to set up two exhibitions and storytelling events. We will also organize workshops in Piran and Ljubljana. All these activities will be related to plastic waste in the sea, with a special focus being placed on cigarette butts. The project will be implemented in cooperation with local experts from the fields of legislation, communication, and anthropology. The project will be communicated on social media and elsewhere. We will also inform decision-makers at the municipal and state levels about the project.

The ultimate goal of the project is to ensure a systemic reduction of negative impacts on the marine life on the Slovene coastline and in the Slovene sea.

Contact person: Alenka Kreč Bricelj

Project promoter: Smetumet Cultural Ecological Association