The New Taipei City Government has launched a campaign encouraging people to protect the environment by collecting discarded cigarette butts.
According to the government, cigarette butts have become one of the biggest ocean polluters, as toxins contained in the fibers of cigarette filters flow through sewers, rivers and eventually reach the oceans.
These toxins — which pollute the land and water as well as the ocean and sea animals — might eventually find their way back to our bodies through biological accumulation, it added.
The city reiterated the call on Thursday, encouraging the public to participate in its campaign called “A Homeland Without Cigarette Butts” to encourage removal of cigarette butts in New Taipei City.
During the campaign period from Aug. 13 to Oct. 31, people can exchange cigarette butts for gifts, it said.
For every 200 cigarette butts, collectors can be rewarded with a pack of 3-liter New Taipei City trash bags, and for every 600 cigarette butts, a pack of 10-liter government-approved reusable eco-friendly bags will be rewarded, which people can use for waste disposal after shopping, it added.
To offer more incentives, the government also rolled out lottery prizes: For every 200 cigarette butts, collectors can get a lottery ticket with the first, second and third-largest prizes being vouchers worth of NT$5,000, NT$2,500 and NT$500.
As of Sept. 30, the number of cigarette butts collected reached 4.33 million, with about 8,000 packets of trash bags given out as prizes, the city government said.
Places where cigarette butts are littered most include sidewalks outside restaurants, covered sidewalk arcades in front of convenience stores, as well as beaches and under trees — with the litter unpleasant to the eye and potentially blocking sewers, it said, adding that offenders could be fined between NT$1,200 and NT$ 6,000 according to the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法).
From 2017 to September, the city government has enforced the law in about 13,000 cases, with the amount of fines totaling NT$16.85 million (US$ 550,473). the government said.
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