Unsmoke campaign aims to rid CT of cigarette butts

By Doug Mattushek - 27 September 2019Views : 1655

An exciting new partnership for a cleaner Cape Town was launched in the city’s Central Business District on Thursday.

Cigarette butt litter is a major problem in Cape Town’s CBD and a source of ocean pollution. In fact, the Philip Morris South Africa (PMSA) and Central City Improvement District (CCID) teams picked up over 80kg of cigarette butts in an hour around St Georges Mall.

Members of the public could see for themselves just how much cigarette butt litter is being removed from the CBD each day.

PMSA, an affiliate of one of the world’s largest tobacco companies, aims to tackle this problem by teaming up with the CCID and City of Cape Town.

The partnership is the start of an ongoing effort to raise public awareness on cigarette butt litter and to encourage smokers to dispose of cigarette butts responsibly.

PMSA recently launched its Unsmoke campaign in South Africa. “Unsmoke” means to rid your life of smoke. “If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you’re a smoker, quitting is the best choice you can make. If you don’t quit, change to a better alternative. In this way, we can ‘unsmoke’ ourselves, our family, our friends, our city, and our world,” says Marcelo Nico, MD of PMSA.

Part of the campaign includes addressing the issue of cigarette butt litter. PMSA’s goal is to encourage behaviour change given the huge challenges faced by authorities to keep our city clean on a daily basis.

“As a tobacco company, we believe it’s important to partner with authorities and the public on the problem of cigarette butt litter. We aim to ‘unsmoke’ Cape Town and raise public awareness about keeping the city clean. Cape Town is not an ashtray,” says Nico.

CCID CEO Tasso Evangelinos praised PMSA’s “Unsmoke” initiative, saying he was very excited that the company was joining the fight to keep Cape Town and the Central City clean by encouraging smokers to change their behaviour, thereby assisting the CCID and the City of Cape Town to find ways to reduce the city’s waste footprint.

“The need for creative solutions to our huge litter problem has never been more pressing. Everyone needs to play their part because litter is an avoidable problem, which costs money to clear and negatively impacts on all of our ability to enjoy a clean environment.,” Evangelinos says.

The CCID sweeps and picks up, on average, 2400 kg of litter from the streets in town seven days a week. A key reason for cigarette butt litter is the absence of disposal infrastructure. To address this, the CCID has placed 300 cigarette butt bins at hotspots around the CBD from which around 300kg of cigarette butts are removed each month.

Says Evangelinos: “It costs the CCID R30 000 per day to clean the CBD, which amounts to nearly R11-million per year. This is in addition to the mass waste removal (through the emptying of black wheelie and green street-pole municipal bins) done by the City of Cape Town.”

“It’s great to see companies proactively taking the initiative to assist with tackling the broader challenge of litter in our beautiful city. Keeping Cape Town clean is a shared responsibility and we applaud Philip Morris SA for rolling up their sleeves and working to clean up this type of waste and drawing public attention to the extent of it. The City is happy to have supported this initiative, together with the CCID, and encourage others to take similar action,” said Ald. Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral Committee Member for Water and Waste at the City of Cape Town.

Today’s clean-up is just the beginning. PMSA also intends to expand this initiative to other cities. The public are encouraged to get involved.

Everyone needs to understand that cigarettes butts are in fact litter and that they should be disposed of properly to protect our environment. Together we can Unsmoke Cape Town.