Why do cigarettes have a filter

Toxic, useless and made of plastic: Are cigarette filters banned?

Some startups that produce greener filters are currently in negotiations with large tobacco companies. Novotny and Hendlin doubt that this will remove the core of the problem: the tendency to carelessly throw away the cigarette butt.

E-cigarettes pose a similarly annoying problem. The liquid pods actually have to be rinsed out before they can go to the normal trash. In 2018, the Juul company tweeted that it cannot currently provide a recycling program.

Hendlin suggests a kind of deposit system to get the garbage problem under control: "If you buy new pods, you can hand in the old pods and get the deposit back." According to a spokesman for Juul Labs, a similar system is already being tested internally. Stephan von Orlow from Berlin is currently campaigning for such a deposit system with his initiative “Die Aufnehmer”, albeit for filter cigarettes.

Some countries and states have already taken steps against plastic pollution from cigarettes. In 2016, India banned the packaging of cigarette boxes in plastic. This year, New Jersey passed a new law restricting smoking and vaping in public parks and beaches. Zipf still believes that too many people will continue to throw their cigarette butts and pods in the area.

“It happens out of ignorance and convenience,” she says. "There's just no excuse for that."

The article was originally published in English on NationalGeographic.com.