Clean Up Britain

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Clean Up Britain (CLUB) is a British non-for-profit organisation that uses behavioural interventions to reduce littering. CLUB has entered two partnerships with Philip Morris International (PMI) between 2019 and 2021 to create public campaigns against smoking-related littering.

Relationship with the Tobacco Industry

Research into portable ashtrays in partnership with PMI

Between 2019 and 2020, Clean Up Britain carried out a project in partnership with PMI to research a potential investment into portable ashtrays for the tobacco company. The report highlighted the potential role of PMI to “create and capture the portable ashtray market” and contribute to reducing cigarette litter1 In response, PMI stated that “The findings will be used to develop portable solutions that are more likely to be adopted by smokers on the move.” 23

Multi-year agreement with PMI

In January 2021, CLUB entered a multi-year agreement with Philip Morris Limited to “tackle cigarette butt litter”. Within this voluntary agreement, CLUB is set to act as independent administrator for a PMI-funded project. 4 PMI reportedly paid a “seven-figure sum” to fund the project, which consists in applying “emotional” pressure on smokers caught littering by showing them a short video, narrated by a celebrity, explaining the environmental impact of cigarette filters. 5

The campaign was set to begin on 6 April 2021 and subsequently scaled up nationwide. As of November 2021 the campaign was still to be launched.

CSR: Greenwashing

As an effort to align their image with socially and environmentally beneficial activities, the campaign can be considered an example of Corporate Social Responsibility as a strategy, in particular as a practice of greenwashing. Greenwashing refers to the practice used by controversial industries to market their goods and/or image as environmentally friendly 6 in an effort to increase product sales and divert public attention from their own environmentally damaging practices.7 While cigarette filters that do not decompose are the most commonly littered item on earth,8 waste from tobacco products is far from the only environmental impact of the tobacco industry, whose activities contribute to soil degradation, deforestation, loss of biomass and pollution. 8

Relevant Links

TobaccoTactics Resources:

References

  1. Clean Up Britain, Portable Ashtrays Project in the UK: report on the quantitative research, January 2020, Accessed November 2021
  2. Philip Morris International, Progress toward a world without cigarettes, integrated report 2019, 2019, accessed October 2021
  3. Philip Morris International, Littering prevention, undated, accessed October 2021
  4. J. Read and P. Muttart, Clean Up Britain, letter to Clive Betts MP, 21 January 2021, accessed October 2021
  5. C. Hope, Smokers who drop cigarette ends in street to be shown video revealing environmental impact, The Telegraph, 31 January 2021, accessed October 2021
  6. F. Houghton , S. Houghton, D. O’Doherty et al.Greenwashing tobacco—attempts to eco-label a killer productJ Environ Stud Sci 2019;9:82–85, doi:10.1007/s13412-018-0528-zB
  7. B. Watson, The troubling evolution of corporate greenwashingThe Guardian, 20 August 2016, accessed March 2020
  8. abSTOP, The Tobacco Industry and the Environment, June 2021, accessed November 2021
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