FFE Magazine

Grad students tapped to help Copenhagen’s cigarette butt problem

Cigarette butts have been a persistent problem in Copenhagen. While measures have been introduced in the past to limit litter, the latest anti-smoking measure has merely worsened the issue. According to the City Council, the volume of filters on streets and sidewalks increased by 45 percent since the introduction of the indoor smoking ban in 2007.

The worst part about the filters is that they are difficult to pick up. Filters lodged between paving stones need to be plucked by hand, and the sheer volume of litter makes manual clean up expensive. For every five pieces of trash, four are cigarette butts and, according to Kim Hjerrild of the city’s sanitation division, every piece costs 2 kroner to clean up.

Measures such as promoting unfiltered brands and placing deposits on filters have been proposed, but Hjerrild rejected the idea of “kids going around collecting cigarette filters for money.” Hjerriled also warned against those who think they are helping fight the problem by tossing their filters into sewers. Instead of assisting, they are only causing the drains to clog up.

City officials are looking at students to help them think of a solution. Graduate students from the summer school programme of the University of Copenhagen, the Technical University of Denmark, CopenhagenBusinessSchool and RoskildeUniversity are now brainstorming for the best measure to control the filter problem.

The students are considering recycling avenues as a means to encourage proper disposal of cigarette butts. The city’s manager on the project Jacob Kastrup Haagensen said that a quick solution cannot be hoped, but that good ideas may soon be thought up that may finally move the issue forward.

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