We are halfway through the Summer season!!! We have all been looking forward to spending days at the beach after the long, chilly Winter season.
Although many of us are enjoying the several magnificent beaches that Malta has, it is impossible to overlook the rubbish found cluttering our beaches, which will wind up in our seas, affecting both land and marine species.
As a result, the Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Enterprise has launched the fourth edition of the Saving our Blue campaign, which emphasizes the necessity of eliminating single-use plastics to help protect our marine environment.
As part of the campaign’s initiatives, several beach clean-ups are being organized around Malta and Gozo to raise further awareness about marine litter, including plastic caps, jablo containers, cutlery, as well as cigarette butts, which are usually found on beaches.
Amongst the campaign’s several initiatives, a national survey was undertaken in 2021. According to the results of this survey, 98% of smokers in Malta are aware that littering cigarette filters in our environment is unlawful. Moreover, the survey found that 15% of smokers confess that, despite being aware of the harmful effects that littering with their cigarette butts has on the environment, they nevertheless litter with their filters.
It is worth mentioning that cigarette butts were one of the most prevalent types of litter detected on beaches between 2019 and 2021. The number of cigarette butts gathered has reached over 36 kilos, which is rather significant considering that one cigarette butt is quite light in terms of weight.
It is also worth noting that cigarette butts take years to degrade and vanish from the face of the planet. Therefore, the Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Enterprise has taken up this initiative as part of the Saving Our Blue Campaign to establish this pilot project, by installing forty ballot bins on sandy beaches throughout Malta and Gozo, with twenty-five containers in Malta and fifteen containers in Gozo. These ballot bins aim to urge all smokers to use them instead of burying their cigarette butts in the sand.
Furthermore, the ballot bins provide the interaction to appropriately dispose of their cigarette filter, by responding to the question being asked on the ballot bin unit itself, making this an ecologically responsible action – added to this, one can also participate in this nationwide interactive poll.
This project aims to encourage the public to take the required steps to begin disposing of cigarette butts in these ballot bins whilst at the beach, resulting in less sand contamination and less damage to our marine species within our marine ecosystem.
In addition, by doing this individual step, we will be helping to lessen the risks that these cigarette filters may pose to the general public, particularly our small children when playing at the beach.
The placement of these containers builds upon the work done by the Ministry for the Environment, Energy, and Enterprise in previous years and months, where a ban on various single-use plastic goods was implemented at local selling points earlier this year.