Minimizing waste and littering31 Jul 2019 · 5 min read
We recognize the importance for the global environment of moving away from a ”take-make-waste” production model, where raw materials are used to make a product and then discarded, to a more circular model. It is imperative that waste management programs minimize all waste, and recycle as much as possible.
It is crucial to prevent the leakage of waste into the environment, especially plastics, which are present in cigarette butts and heated tobacco units. It is also equally crucial to combat the plastic pollution of our land and seas by reducing litter.
We want to be the stewards of the product, and are taking a systematic approach to the issue of disguarded cigarette butts and heated tobacco units. This involves analyzing the causes of littering, the drivers of behavior change, and equipment for proper disposal, as well as raising awareness of the issue.
PMI Anti-littering Policy
Our approach to tackling littering is rooted in two key principles:
1. A successful reduction of littering has to entail the “three E’s”:
- Educate, i.e. raise awareness of the issue.
- Enable, i.e. make appropriate cigarette butt disposal equipment available.
- Enforce, i.e. make sure that inappropriate behavior is addressed through relevant legal or “societal” penalties.
2. Positive impact – behavior change – can only be achieved through collaboration and involvement of relevant stakeholders: competent authorities, managers of so-called “transition points” (places where items must be discarded before entering,
such as public place entrances) and event organizers, manufacturers and consumers.
We’re partnering with others to develop and share innovative approaches in areas where our contribution can have the greatest impact: promoting consumer awareness (Educate) and promoting the use of waste receptacles (Enable). We encourage and want to enable consumers to reduce littering globally with the goal to make tangible and measurable improvements to the problem of cigarette butt littering.
While used heated tobacco units are significantly less likely to be littered than cigarette butts, they are also a better candidate for recycling and integration in the circular economy.
What's the purpose of cigarette filters?
Are cigarette filters made of plastic?
Are cigarette filters biodegradable?
The purpose of the cigarette filter is to capture some of the particulates from the smoke and to dilute substances found in the smoke such as tar, nicotine, and carbon monoxide. It allows better handling and stubbing of the cigarette.
The main constituent of cigarette filters is cellulose acetate, a bioplastic made from wood cellulose. Cellulose acetate biodegrades over several months or several years, depending on the surrounding conditions. While it does not meet the strict biodegradability standards required for labelling as biodegradable, it will not accumulate in the environment over time. In contrast, conventional plastics made from petrochemicals take hundreds of years to degrade, often breaking down to form micro-plastics.
Cellulose acetate biodegrades over several months or several years, depending on the surrounding conditions. PMI has been researching cigarette filters with higher degradability for many years, but no better alternative to cellulose acetate has yet been found. While we do continue our research for filters with higher degradability, one should assume that the cigarette filter in its current form remains an integral part of the product.
Creating a circular economy
As we expand our portfolio of smoke-free products, we are incorporating sustainability considerations into the design of these products, their packaging, and accessories. Given the sensitive and often scarce resources required for electronic components, products need to be designed with easier recycling in mind.
Our ambition is that each device can be returned after use and recycled in every country where we sell IQOS. As a first step toward a circular economy at PMI, we partnered with specialist companies to establish two recycling hubs, or reverse
logistics centers, in Europe and Asia.
These centralized hubs serve markets covering the vast majority of our IQOS device sales volume.