The Cape Town Central City Improvement District is distributing reusable ‘pocket’ ashtrays to smokers as part of its anti-litter programme. 
 Armand Hough African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Smokers who drop their cigarette butts across the CBD have resulted in the Cape Town Central City Improvement District (CCID) coming up with a novel way to deal with the problem.

As part of the CCID’s anti-litter campaign, called “It’s time to come clean”, they have been distributing reusable “pocket” ashtrays to smokers - pouches lined with foil, which close with a stud.

“The CCID has been distributing the pouches for the past five years and it has been a successful way of reducing cigarette butt waste. We also often get requests for these pouches from companies and members of the public,” said Sharon Sorour-Morris, communications manager at CCID.

Smokers dropping butts have become a huge headache. More than 300 kg of cigarette butts are collected by CCID cleaners from CCID cigarette-butt bins strategically placed in the CBD. CCID manager for urban management Richard Beesley said a large number still ended up on the ground.

Lorren de Kock, project manager of circular plastics economy with WWF South Africa, said: “Cigarette butts are among the top 10 most prevalent plastic waste items found on beaches and streets of South Africa.

“The chemicals caught up in the butts leach into the environment when exposed to the elements, not to mention when ingested by marine animals. This litter on the streets, beaches and pedestrian walkways is unsightly and has an impact on tourism and other related economic activities. Freshwater is also polluted after heavy rains when butts are washed into stormwater drains, into rivers and eventually into the sea,” said De Kock.

The current law bans smoking in public places but allows for designated smoking areas in places like bars, taverns and restaurants provided that they do not take up more than 25% of the venue. Picture: Armand Hough/African News Agency(ANA)

Co-ordinator of solid waste for the City’s law enforcement Carmen Manuel said: “The CCID and the City of Cape Town has made extra provision for people to discard their waste - even the green litter bin has silver-plated ashtrays on it. There are enough provisions for people to adhere to the by-laws and keep the streets clean.

“Many people are not clued up on the laws, and it’s something people have been doing for many years. There are a lot of drains, and when it rains, these butts run down the drain and cause blockages, which becomes another problem for the water and sanitation department to fix.”

St George’s Mall stallholder Victor Koria said: “People who work in the City smoke a lot. Some are very careless about where they throw butts. It leaves the place looking terrible at the end of the day. Smokers just leave it up to the cleaners to sweep them up. It shows these people’s ignorance.”

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Cape Argus