Measures attempted so far have been ineffective. / E.C.

Spain's Catalonia region considers a tax on cigarettes to encourage smokers to recycle the butts

The Catalonian regional government is considering introducing a new tax of 20 céntimos per cigarette, which could generate 154.44 million euros a year to spend on raising awareness and clean-up operations

EUROPA PRESS Barcelona

The Catalonian regional government is considering introducing a new tax of 20 céntimos per cigarette, to encourage people to return their cigarette butts so they can be recycled. Part of the tax would be refunded when they handed over the cigarette ends, explained the director of l'Agència de Residus de Catalunya, Isaac Peraire, in an interview on Tuesday.

“The aim is to avoid the current situation, where 70% of cigarette ends generated in Catalonia end up thrown on the floor or into the sea,” he said, before insisting that this is not a way for the government to make money.

According to initial estimates from the region's Ministry of Climate Action, Food and Rural Agenda, if someone returns 90% of their cigarette ends for recycling, they could receive 926.65 euros a year back as a refund, while the Generalitat would have 154.44 million euros a year to spend on raising awareness and clean-up operations.

Sources there say the amount of 20 céntimos per cigarette has been decided upon after studies were carried out into the scheme.

Peraire did not rule out the idea that the cigarette ends could be returned to tobacconists or other places where cigarettes are sold, as well as to recycling points.

The Catalonian government, which considers that measures put into effect until now have had hardly any effect, is also thinking of including this initiative in its new Law of Residues, which would also put a stop to single-use plastics, eradicate unnecessary food packaging and do away with microplastics.