14 November 2022

Ballot bin installed to encourage smokers to bin their butt

Town council install a ballot bin on the Cobb Arms toilets to encourage smokers to bin their butt

A NEW ‘Ballot Bin’ has been installed in Lyme Regis this week to encourage smokers to bin their butt and reduce cigarette litter around the town.

Litter Free Dorset has partnered with Lyme Litter Pickers and Lyme Regis Town Council to install the Ballot Bin on the seafront next to the Cobb Arms, which will be officially opened at a launch event at 12.30pm on Friday 18 November.

The Ballot Bin is a customisable ashtray, proven to reduce cigarette butt litter by 46%.

Each Ballot Bin displays a question with two answers and smokers vote by putting their cigarette butt in the slots underneath their preferred answer. The litter stacks up behind the clear glass front in two columns, showing which answer is more popular.

Studies show that proposals to decrease cigarette butt pollution have been largely ineffective, with cigarette butts consistently being the single most collected item in beach clean-ups and litter surveys.

Smokers find the Ballot Bins much more engaging than alternative ashtrays and are more likely to use them.

Volunteers from Turn Lyme Green’s Lyme Litter Pickers will be monitoring the bin and carrying out regular checks, as well as updating the ballot question.

The question will be changed on a weekly basis to keep up with current events, so look out for the first week’s question – it could be anything from who will win the England vs. New Zealand Rugby match on Saturday 19 November, to which couple you think will be voted out of Strictly that weekend.

Tag @litterfreedorset on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to suggest a question.

Janet Breeze, Lyme Litter Pickers coordinator, said: “Our volunteer litter pickers consistently report that cigarette butts are the most common item they collect.

“During a recent survey we conducted in collaboration with the Marine Stewardship Council, 133 butts were collected along just 100m of our beautiful beach – despite it being regularly swept.

“In addition, they are regularly found in the adjacent car and bike parks, Langmoor Gardens, outside the theatre and around benches, pubs, restaurants and bars throughout the town. Being small, they are difficult to collect either by hand or with council road cleaning equipment.

“We hope our new Ballot Bin will draw attention to the problem in Lyme and encourage smokers to do the right thing and bin their butt.”

National surveys also suggest that many smokers do not view cigarette butts as litter and as a result, up to 70% of cigarette butts are dropped in our towns and open spaces.

The reality is that anything left or dropped on the ground will eventually end up in our waterways, which is even more of a problem in a coastal town such as Lyme, where in most cases you are only a drain away from the sea.

Many smokers don’t realise the significant impact of cigarette butts on the environment and are unaware that they contain plastic, as well as harmful chemicals and toxins.

Cigarette butts are the most common form of litter in the world, with an estimated 4.5 trillion cigarette butts thrown away every year.

The filters used in cigarettes are made from cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that takes many years to break down into microplastics which will remain in our environment forever.

Even the paper, which many people assume is biodegradable, will take years to degrade when left in the environment.

Cigarette butts also leak harmful toxins into our environment and waterways, posing a risk to wildlife that will ingest them and the microplastics they leave behind.

They are the greatest single source of marine litter, ranking even higher than plastic bags and straws, and have been commonly found in the stomachs of fish, birds, whales, and other marine creatures.

Emma Teasdale, project officer at Litter Free Dorset said: “We are excited to launch this new facility in Lyme Regis and to see the impact it has on cigarette litter in the town.

“Litter Free Dorset aims to reduce litter at source, so we are always looking for ways to make this as easy and accessible as possible for people to do. The Ballot Bin also adds an element of fun to an otherwise unpleasant problem.

“We are delighted to have the support of Lyme Litter Pickers as well as the town council, and we look forward to seeing a reduction of cigarette litter in Lyme over the coming months.”

For more information about Litter Free Dorset and to stay up to date with their current projects and campaigns, check out the Litter Free Dorset website and social media channels.