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‘Ballot bin’ a bid to reduce smoking litter in Grantham town centre

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A ‘ballot bin’ was installed in Grantham town centre this week in a bid to tackle the most common form of litter – cigarette ends.

The bright yellow bin has been introduced in the Market Place by South Kesteven District Council as a “light-hearted” way to reduce the number of cigarette butts dropped to the ground.

It works by asking a question – the first being ‘pineapple on pizza?’ – and offers a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ option.

Cllr Dr Peter Moseley launches South Kesteven’s first cigarette Ballot Bin. (12688814)
Cllr Dr Peter Moseley launches South Kesteven’s first cigarette Ballot Bin. (12688814)

Smokers vote by putting their cigarette end in the slot beneath their preferred answer. The litter stacks up behind the clear glass front in two columns, showing which answer is more popular.

SKDC hopes that encouraging smokers to have a bit of fun while also getting rid of their cigarette butts in an environmentally-friendly way will reduce the amount of smoking-related litter.

Cabinet member for commercial and operations Councillor Peter Moseley said: “We hope the light- hearted voting system will encourage people to use the bin to help keep the town centre looking its very best.

“People may not realise that cigarette filters contain plastics and other chemicals that don’t degrade, and these can be harmful to wildlife if they end up in surface water drains leading to rivers.

So, despite our light-hearted approach, our message is clear: don’t drop litter.”

From August last year to the end of May, 390 fixed penalty notices were issued to people caught dropping cigarette butts by SKDC – the majority of these in Grantham.

On-the-spot fines of £100 are handed to culprits, which the council said goes towards the cost of maintaining street standards.

Those who fail to pay end up in court. Recent cases have seen Grantham litter-droppers fined £220 and ordered to pay victim surcharges and costs on top.

Coun Moseley said: “We have pledged to crack down on littering and other anti-social behaviour that can blight our communities. People have to realise that they cannot drop cigarette butts, or any other kind of litter, without risking a significant financial penalty.

“These prosecutions show we are serious in our intention to help make sure a minority of people do not spoil the environment for those who want to enjoy it.”

SKDC hopes this innovative approach will see litter reduced, having found the ‘ballot bins’ have been successfully trialled in other parts of the country.

The bin is installed on a lamp post near The Orrery sculpture in Market Place. As of yesterday morning (Thursday), most smokers were voting ‘no’ to pineapple on pizza.

The question will be changed on a regular basis, the council said.

Coun Moseley added: “Innovation like this reflects our commitment to a higher street standard throughout the district, which already consistently exceeds the national average.

“If the trial is a success, further bins could be installed in other areas.”

According to public health charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), smoking materials make up 35 per cent of all street litter, with discarded cigarette ends amounting to 11 tonnes of waste daily.

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