New regulations, which came into force on friday, involve tobacco companies being charged to clean up cigarette butts from the streets and beaches of spain. figures from 2020 show that around a fifth of adult spaniards smoke everyday. the rules were drawn up in order to comply with a european union directive banning single-use plastics like cutlery and straws.
Regulations were implemented in spain last year, and ireland followed suit on thursday. in addition to this, barcelona has banned smoking on all of its public beaches, with offenders fined €30. it is estimated that local authorities in catalonia were paying between €12-21 per inhabitant per year on road cleaning of cigarettes, with higher rates in coastal areas.
New rules make manufacturers responsible for collecting discarded butts as well as transporting them for waste treatment. most cigarette butts contain filters made of cellulose acetate fibre, a type of a bioplastic, which can take years, if not decades, to break down. this plastic waste can hamper plant growth and has been identified as the most abundant waste on the beaches of the western mediterranean. the mesa del tabaco industry association is still waiting for details on how the rules will be implemented, and it remains unclear whether costs are likely to be passed on to consumers.