Although small and lightweight, cigarette butts are already ranked by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as the second highest pollutant in the Philippines due to the sheer volume of butts littering practically every sidewalk and main road in the country. To illustrate how huge the volumes could be, Chris Nelson, president of the newly formed merger firm of Philip Morris Philippines and Fortune Tobacco Co. Inc. (PMFTC), disclosed that the number of cigarettes sold last year by Philip Morris Philippines alone had already reached 85 billion sticks.
Knowing well the added impact of its business on the environment, PMFTC is doing its share to kick these butts off the streets. “We recognize that a used cigarette butt is a significant contributor to litter in our environment. As the leading manufacturer and marketer of cigarettes in the Philippines, PMFTC seeks to proactively address the issues caused by cigarette butt litter,” Nelson said.
The “BA2D2” anti-butt litter campaign, which was officially launched last week, is aimed at reminding the public about the right way to dispose of their used cigarette butts, by placing specially designed cigarette butt receptacles in strategic areas nationwide. (BA2D2 is a short text version of the Tagalog phrase “Ibato Mo Dito” (throw your litter here).
The importance of such a campaign cannot be overstressed as these pollutants could take up to 25 years to break down due to cellulose acetate, a type of plastic, in the filters that resist biodegradation, according to the EcoWaste Coalition. The group earlier pointed out that discarded butts can also leach toxic chemicals into the water and soil as they corrode into tiny plastic powder.
To ensure the sustainability of this campaign, Nelson said PMFTC is adopting a three-step method—an information and education drive, aggressive implementation of the campaign, and a planned research study to find sustainable solutions to address the issues concerning cigarette butt litter. The company has already begun a number of activities geared towards these three steps, as it hopes to soon make the BA2D2 a byword among adult smokers and arouse their consciousness on responsible disposal of their litter.