New eco-friendly rules are going to mean big changes for cigarette smokers.
Government ministers have announced plans to get rid of a number of common disposable plastic items, including single-use coffee cups, wet wipes and cigarette filters.
A plastic called cellulose acetate is a major component of conventional cigarette filters.
When cigarette butts are thrown away, the plastic, as well as the poisonous nicotine, heavy metals, and other toxic chemicals they have absorbed finds its way into rivers and landfill.
In particular, the poisons contained in cigarette butts are a serious hazard to plants.
If cigarette manufacturers need to find replacements for existing filter technology it is likely that the expense of that research will eventually hit cigarette smokers in the pocket in the form of price rises.
George Eustice, the environment secretary, said the government intended to “wage war” on plastic pollution and tobacco firms are among the parties expected be asked for their views in a consultation on plastic pollution.
“Plastic damages our environment and destroys wildlife,” he said.
“It’s time we left our throwaway culture behind once and for all . . . These new plans represent the next major step in eradicating the use of problematic plastics.”
Over a billion disposable plastic plates and 4.25 billion items of single-use cutlery are used every year in England alone, with only around 10% of them making their way into recycling plants.
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Mr Eustice explained that plastic litter damages our environment and endangers wildlife.
“This Government has waged war on unnecessary, wasteful plastics,” he said. “banning the supply of plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds, while our carrier bag charge has cut consumption by 95% in the main supermarkets.
Researchers say that over a million birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles die every year from swallowing plastic waste or getting tangled in it.
Marcus Gover, chief executive of waste reduction charity Wrap, welcomed the government move.
He said: “We now need regulation to follow and ensure that all businesses take steps to eliminate problematic and unnecessary plastic.”
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