Resource Use

Interactive initiatives target cigarette litter

Interactive initiatives target cigarette litterNeat Streets, the campaign investigating anti-litter initiatives run by sustainability charity Hubbub in partnership with Westminster City Council and Veolia, has turned its attention to cutting down on cigarette litter.

Since May, the campaign has tested a number of pilot initiatives on Villiers Street in London to find the most effective ways of bringing about behaviour change.

The campaign aims to take an innovative and creative approach to make throwing rubbish away ‘fun’ and interactive, and has previously created a peppermint pointillist art installation and talking dustbins.

In an independent progress study, Keep Britain Tidy suggested that littering in Villiers Street in general has fallen by 26 per cent since the campaign began. More specifically, the pilot schemes had a significant impact in reducing chewing gum litter, which fell by 54 per cent in June and 26 per cent in July.

However, research carried out by Hubbub in the street found that cigarette butts constitute 78 per cent of all observed litter.

In addition, 89 per cent of smokers observed by the charity littered their cigarette butts, a figure that rose to 99 per cent during the ‘night-time economy’.

Measures to confront cigarette litterers

Responding to its findings that those littering cigarette butts tend to be younger, Hubbub is working with students from Central St Martins ‘to develop interventions aimed at young people, designed by young people.’

Interactive street installations and performances are being installed with the aim of reducing cigarette litter,­ as well as encouraging litterers to change their behaviour in the long term.

Installations being trialled this month include:

  • Interactive initiatives target cigarette litter
    Fumo, the musical smokers' pole
    Fumo, the musical pole – an interactive smokers’ pole that rewards members of the public with an audio-visual display and melody when they use it to dispose of their cigarette butts;.
  • a cigarette voting ashtray – an ashtray providing a series of weekly sports questions that smokers can vote on by placing their butts in different compartments; .
  • the Butts Out campaign – quirkily designed portable ashtrays stocked by local pubs and bars to be made available for smokers to use on the go.
  • giant cigarettes – stacked in unsightly heaps across the street, the giant cigarette installation, previously used in the City of London’s ‘No Small Problem’ campaign, intends to raise awareness of the issue of cumulating butt ends across the city.

Keep Britain Tidy will be undertaking regular monitoring of littering habits in Villiers Street to investigate how effective the trials are and will report its overall findings in October.

Project to attack ‘sworn enemy’ of local government

Commenting on the focus of the campaign switching to cigarettes, Cllr Richard Beddoe, Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for City Management, said: “Cigarette butts, alongside discarded chewing gum, are two of local government’s sworn enemies – costing the public purse needless millions every year.

“The results so far are hugely encouraging, and we hope the next phase of the Villiers Street pilot will help highlight the issue nationally and inspire people to tackle the root causes. The old excuses of ‘there are not enough bins’ simply do not wash.”

Learn more about the Neat Streets campaign or watch a video of the campaign’s work so far.

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