William Eichler 29 March 2016

Talking ashtrays to tackle butt litter

A council in London is introducing a ‘voting ashtray’ designed to discourage people from throwing their cigarette butts on the floor by engaging them in topical debates.

Sutton Council is among the first organisations to introduce the ‘ballot bins’ which aim to jolt people out of their normal littering routine by asking them intriguing questions, such as 'Who is your favourite superhero?'

Littering costs the tax-payer as much as £850m in clean up costs each year, with discarded cigarette butts contributing significantly to this bill.

In a trial in Villiers Street, London, almost a third (29%) of smokers used the voting bin rather than the floor.

The new bins, which are designed by the behaviour change charity Hubbub, are part of the council’s Clean Streets Sutton campaign.

Cllr Jill Whitehead, chair of the Environments and Neighbourhood Committee at Sutton Council, said:

'Clean Streets Sutton is about using the latest thinking about behaviour change to try to alter the habits of people who litter, and help educate others as to the benefits of a cleaner, safer and more inviting environment.

‘It will also help to save the taxpayer money as the everyday costs of cleaning up chewing gum, cigarette butts, fly tipping and litter really add up. At a time when our budgets are being severely cut, any savings can make a big difference.’

Trewin Restorick, CEO/founder of Hubbub comments: ‘The voting bin is a simple solution that has provoked an incredibly positive response. We've had requests from around the world for the bin with many countries wondering how they can change the questions to reflect their country's culture and interests.

‘So we have taken the plunge and are now scaling up production so that we can sell the bins to tackle the issue of litter in a fun and engaging way.’

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