According to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment’s research, cigarette butts is the number one single use product littered in Sweden. The organization, “Håll Sverige Rent” released a report in 2020 indicating that approximately one billion cigarette butts are littered on the streets of Sweden every year. This accumulates to approximately 108 tons of plastic which obviously has an incredibly negative impact on the environment.
In June last year, when the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency did research on trash and littering, it turned out that 62% of all litter is made up by cigarettes. During the one-week long study and astonishing 21 million cigarette butts were collected.
To stifle this, the Swedish Ministry of the Environment has put together a series of suggestions to reduce the littering of discarded single-use items containing plastic, including cigarette butts. One of these points suggests being able to fine those people that litter chewing gum and cigarette butts on the street. While it is illegal per se to litter in Sweden today, there’s no actual consequence for “slight littering”.
This proposal has been under consultation and the Public Prosecutor’s Office is green-lighting the initiative up and is proposing that anyone who is caught throwing cigarette butts (slight littering) will be punished with a fine of SEK 800.
The police states in its response to the consultation that there will be an increased workload for them if even minor littering is made a criminal offense, but otherwise has no objection to the proposal.
The question, however, is how great is the risk of being fined? In 2020, only 87 people were fined for littering according to “Keep Sweden Clean”. However, the proposal sends a clear signal that those who smoke and recklessly throw their butts on the ground is risking consequences.
The proposed action from this investigation suggests that slight littering should be punishable starting January 1, 2022.