Did you know that cigarette and bidi butts are environmentally hazardous? Recently, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) passed several recommendations for the safe disposal of this tinty, but ecologically dangerous waste.
Every day, millions of cigarettes and bidis are smoked and the butts thrown. You can see these eyesores on the streets across public spaces. Apart from being harmful to the environment, they are also an impediment to solid waste management.
Steps taken by both NGT and Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) are commendable and in the larger interest of environment and health. The latest NGT order should bring in a sense of social consciousness and responsibility among smokers not only about their own health, but that of others too who are victims of passive smoking. This should also make smokers worry about environmental safety and make them accountable.
The major component of a cigarette butt is cellulose acetate (95%) apart from the wrapping paper and rayon Even under ideal conditions, only 37.8% of a butt is fully decomposed in two years in the soil. One of the solutions suggested was to remove cellulose acetate from the cigarette butts till degradation and safety data are generated.
The right way to approach this problem, as suggested by NGT, is to create awareness among the public about the dangers of randomly throwing cigarette and bidi butts. It has said that cigarette and bidi manufacturers should provide regular and timely information throughout their distribution channel to create awareness among people.
The Supreme Court order on smoking in public spaces should be strictly implemented. Smoking should be banned in outdoor, indoor and workplace areas.
I support the NGT suggestion on strict enforcement and levying of fines against smoking in public spaces. Local laws should be strengthened and law-enforcing authorities given enough powers to implement the legislation.
Like the Tribunal recommended, domestic smokers should be told to segregate cigarette butts from dry waste. Instructions should be printed on cigarette and bidi packets on safe disposal of butts. At the same time, government institutions should take measures to convert cigarette waste into energy.