Written by daniel

This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling  waste in tourism & events”

Cigarette butts are small but terrible. People tend to throw them away anywhere and they pollute like hell. Their collecting and recycling industries are still emergent. Potentially dangerous for our direct safety (fire, etc) and difficult to pick up, they are a true nightmare for everyone, including tourism and events organisations.


2/3 of the cigarette butts end up on the ground. In doing so, it releases toxic substances from combustion: nicotine, tar, arsenic, methanol, ammonia, lead, pesticide residues, heavy metals, phenols, hydrocyanic acid… And through runoff, filters and these products often end up in water. Toxic and non-biodegradable, cigarette butts:

  • contain around 4000 chemical substances (arsenic, lead, tar…).
  • take up to 10 years to disappear.
  • In France, 1000 cigarette butts per second are thrown on the ground.
  • In the mountains, up to 7 000 cigarette butts per day can be found under a single chairlift.
  • can pollute up to 500 litres of water per cigarette butt.

If you mix a few cigarette butts with worms, as soon as 25% of the mixture is mixed with the soil, you have a 100% mortality rate, as well as a 100% avoidance rate, i.e. at no time will worms go into an earth-cigarette butt mixture. For the flora, it is the same thing, the rate of progression of algae is lower when in contact with tobacco.

Learn more:


Identify:The main hot spots where your customers / events participants are throwing away cigarette butts? Sort out trash containers: learn more.

Measure / estimate: How many cigarette butts are you currently collecting on the floor (versus in the containers) per month? Follow up on key indicators: learn more.

Cigarette butts & chewing-gums
which solutions?

#1 Pocket ashtrays / bins

Offer or sell pocket ashtrays to your employees / guests / event participants.

Possible if: …

Gain trust & Differentiate yourself

Cost money

Suppliers / Partners

  • Nomad AttituDD is offering various pocket ashtrays options made of cardboard, metal or plastic material and which can be personalized.
  • Gumego offers portable solutions for cigarette butts and chewing-gum collection for individuals, as well as proper containers for companies, combined with a collection service.

See our collaborative database: click here
Suggest new ones: click here

#2 Collect and recycle

Put ashtrays at all key places where your staff and guests are usually smoking cigarettes.

Possible if: …

Gain trust & differentiate yourself
Easy to implement

Cost a bit of money
Requires anticipation

Suppliers / Partners

  • Reach out organizations such as Greenminded,  MéGO! or ÉcoMégot or France. They are offering special kits to collect and recycle cigarette butts.

See our collaborative database: click here
Suggest new ones: click here


  • In french we talk about “mégots match” for containers asking a question and offering to smokers to vote by putting their cigarette butt in one or the other container. It’s a great playful (not annoying!) way to collect cigarette butts. Try to be fun and playful, it usually works better!

#3 Raising awareness
of people

Put signage next to each ashtray.

Possible if: …

Differentiate yourself
Easy to implement

Require anticipation


  • Try to be fun and playful, it usually works better!


The Cigarette Surfboard is a project that started as a tool of awareness to raise consciousness around beach and ocean plastic pollution, and more specifically cigarette butts littering. Made from collected and upcycled cigarettes, this project was built around an environmental surf film.

See our collaborative database: click here
Suggest new ones: click here

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This article is part of our toolbox
“Tackling waste in tourism & events”

Thank you to our authors as well as our expert proofreaders who contributed to fact-checking the content. Like the entire toolbox, this article has been created thanks to the collaborative effort of:

The Future of Waste community