PHILIP Morris International Inc. has launched “Our World Is Not an Ashtray,” a new global initiative to raise awareness and drive a long-term change in behavior and attitudes around cigarette butt littering. The initiative supports PMI’s litter reduction target—described in its Integrated Report 2019—to achieve a 50 percent reduction of the plastic litter from its products by 2025 (vs. 2021 baseline).
The initiative, launched on WorldNoAshtray.com, aims to educate the public about the environmental impact of cigarette butt littering and inspire adult smokers to change littering habits.
“We seek to make cigarette butt littering socially unacceptable,” said Huub Savelkouls, Chief Sustainability Officer at PMI. “‘Our World Is Not an Ashtray’ is an important initiative in our multipronged approach to addressing this important issue.”
To track progress against its goal, PMI is working with three organizations— Litterati , Cortexia, and CARTO—to implement a data-driven approach and assess the prevalence of cigarette butt litter across the globe; identify litter hotspots; and, monitor the impact of anti-littering activities.
A pilot assessment will take place this summer in a pilot city before being rolled out in representative countries across the world in 2021 as part of a five-year assessment.
Waste littering is a major environmental concern and was identified as an issue of growing importance for PMI following external assessments, and raised to priority status in its Sustainability Materiality Report at the end of 2019. In a new international study conducted by global research data and insights company Kantar this spring on behalf of PMI, 25 percent of adult smokers reported that they throw cigarette butts on the ground because they “think it is a normal way to dispose of a cigarette.”
The survey also revealed that 75 percent of respondents thought that cigarette filters are made of cotton or paper, and only 13 percent knew that filters are made of plastic. These findings highlight the need for awareness campaigns such as “Our World Is Not an Ashtray” to help change smokers’ behaviors.
Jeff Kirschner, Founder and CEO of Litterati, said: “There’s a widespread view that there’s nothing wrong with stubbing out cigarettes on streets or beaches, yet very few people realize that plastic is the main component in cigarette butts. Litterati began with just one person picking up a cigarette butt, and it has transformed into a global movement that’s empowering people to crowd source-clean the planet. Together with PMI, we will use our technology to gather behavioral insight on cigarette butt littering, map problem areas, and mitigate future risk. We’re proud to be part of ‘Our World Is Not an Ashtray’ to help address cigarette butt litter worldwide.”
PMI is increasing the scale and reach of its participation in clean-up activities, to raise awareness of the issues of littering—and cigarette butt littering particularly—in local communities.
Working with Litterati, PMI will encourage volunteers in every corner of the world to use the organization’s app to geotag litter and join cleanup challenges ranging from local neighborhoods to global initiatives. PMI’s affiliates will also work with local anti-littering organizations, following the participation of over 3,900 PMI volunteers from 31 countries in litter collections on World Cleanup Day 2019 where they collected 83 tons of litter.
Jens Rupp, PMI’s Head of Environmental Sustainability, said: “Cigarette butt litter is a problem that we need to solve; too many cigarette butts are littered, ending up in the natural environment.
By working with experts to better understand how to nudge smokers to more responsible disposal habits, launching general population education programs, and cooperating with governments and local authorities to ensure there is an adequate waste disposal infrastructure, we can reduce the plastic litter associated with our products.”
– Jul. 18, 2020 @ 13:32 GMT