Communities creating change in Berlin

17 Jan 2024
Learn how Philip Morris Germany is supporting local initiatives to drive greater take-up of anti-littering projects.
Germany market story

Communities in action are a powerful force for good. That’s why Philip Morris Germany (PMG) is supporting the KIPPEN-BUDDIES project, a campaign to remove cigarettes from the environment.

The campaign is a part of ALLES IM FLUSS, a project committed to the cleanliness of Berlin’s waterways, riverbanks, parks, and neighborhoods. ALLES IM FLUSS is a project of the non-profit initiative wirBERLIN, which encourages communities and government stakeholders to come together to improve the public spaces of the city.

We sat down with Markus Schuetz, Head of Sustainability at PMG, to learn more about the project’s work, how PMG lends its support, and what the future holds for this relationship.

Can you tell us about the initiative?

wirBERLIN is a non-profit initiative that evolved from the non-partisan, interdisciplinary civil platform Stadtgespräch Berlin (“City Talk Berlin”—known for creating the active involvement of society in the development of the city). wirBERLIN has been committed to creating a sustainable urban society since 2011. The purpose of the initiative is to promote nature conservation and landscape preservation, public education, and civic engagement. The goal is to reduce plastic and packaging waste, drive down littering, and improve the quality of public spaces and life.

To achieve this goal, the initiative aims to inform people about the negative impact of littering on the environment and motivate them to act. wirBERLIN’s approach to anti-littering education and action is rooted in building strong ties with the community and encouraging them to take responsibility for their environment.

For instance, wirBERLIN is the main initiator of the “Aktionstag” (Action Day) as part of WORLD CLEANUP DAY BERLIN. This annual day of action has been taking place for 13 years, and since then, 100,000 committed people have taken part in cleanup campaigns throughout the Berlin city area.

Markus Schuetz,
Head of Sustainability Germany
Philip Morris Germany

What does wirBERLIN do to reach its objectives?

wirBERLIN runs several educational projects to inform people about waste reduction and the environmental impact of littering. It goes beyond providing information and encourages people to get involved in hands-on projects. The group organizes various activities with stakeholders from the civic, public, and private sectors, including cleanups, expert discussions, poster competitions, interactive quizzes and games, and lots more.

How would you describe the partnership between PMG and wirBERLIN?

PMG continuously collaborates with wirBERLIN and contributed to founding the KIPPEN-BUDDIES campaign—a cross-media educational campaign focused on reducing cigarette butt pollution. A central element of the campaign has been the distribution of more than 20,000 pocket ashtrays at events and street festivals since 2020. As well as this, PMG employees are actively involved in local cleanups where volunteers from the community, local businesses, and political decision makers collect litter and cigarette butts in public places. On May 5, 2023, PMG employees joined a cleanup at Treptower Park and collected approximately 2,000 cigarette butts. wirBERLIN plans to expand the scope of the KIPPEN-BUDDIES-campaign and PMG is currently assessing how to further support this.

How does PMG support wirBERLIN in its efforts to combat littering and strengthen the community?

This year’s collaboration is focused on raising awareness through cleanups (e.g., WORLD CLEANUP DAY BERLIN 2023) and educational events. PMG is currently looking at expanding the scope of the project by organizing additional activities, increasing media outreach, and exporting the project to other cities in the country, such as Dresden and Rostock.

The cooperation allows PMG to make use of wirBERLIN’s established and well-known platform to publicly promote PMI’s global anti-littering drive, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.

All images credited to WirBerlin, 2023.