Project launched in Athens to reduce cigarette waste

A pilot program in Athens offered recently a second “useful” life to cigarette butts.

The initiative, Gopa Project (gopa means cigarette butt in Greek), installed large yellow ashtrays that serve as ballot boxes, inviting people to “Vote with your Cigarette Butt”, and calls on citizens to put their finished cigarettes in the box instead of littering.

“Gopa Project comes, on the one hand, to cover the absence of urban ashtrays in the Greek cities and on the other to mobilize smokers to reduce cigarette waste in public spaces,” Alekos Liapis, responsible for the Gopa Project, told Xinhua.

“Each ashtray contains a dilemma, a question, and two answers, and the smoker is asked to vote with his cigarette butt. It is a way to motivate the smoker not to throw his cigarette down but in an urban ashtray,” he said.

Liapis suggested there was 50 percent reduction in cigarette waste as a result of similar initiatives in other places in the world.

Cigarette butts are toxic waste, not just junk. A cigarette filter consists of 12,000 plastic fibers when thrown into the sea — it’s like throwing 12,000 small plastic trash, according to the Hellenic Cancer Society, a non-profit organization aiming to fight cancer and raise public awareness.

Statistics indicated that 3,500 tons of cigarette butts were created in Greece in 2014, among them, a large proportion were discarded indiscriminately in public places, such as roads, beaches, squares, and forests.