BY KATIE - MYGREENPOD, 26 March '16

A novel way to keep butts off streets

Voting cigarette Ballot Bins have gone global as a fun and effective way to tackle one of biggest litter issues in cities around the world.

A voting ashtray

The innovative voting ashtray was designed by behaviour change charity Hubbub to address the issue of cigarette butt litter in the UK. Now councils, governments and brands around the world are placing orders for their own Ballot Bins.

Littering costs the taxpayer as much as £850m in clean-up costs each year and – according to a report from the Communities and Local Government (CLG) Committee – chewing gum and cigarettes are the most littered items.

Going global

First featured in the Neat Streets campaign by environmental charity Hubbub, the point of the Ballot Bin is to jolt people out of their normal littering routine by asking fun questions that smokers have an opinion on.

The voting ballot bins went viral last year and took social media by storm with the burning question ‘Who’s the best footballer in the world, Ronaldo or Messi?’

By popular demand Ballot Bins are now for sale online www.ballotbins.co.uk Councils, brands and leisure facilities have made orders and ballot bins will be shipped to France, Spain, the US and Japan. BMW has also placed an order.

How it works

The Ballot Bin is a bespoke ashtray designed to tackle the issue of cigarette butt litter. A voting system encourages use of the ashtray, allowing the user to vote by choosing one of two slots to dispose of their cigarette butt. Each slot has a window to display the used butts, allowing a public opinion poll to be generated.

‘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.’

TREWIN RESTORICK
CEO and founder of Hubbub

The bins and questions asked are customisable; they can take any colour and the questions can be tailored to the interests of people in the local area. Cities around the world are asking topical questions to engage local smokers – from ‘Who will win the premier league – Leicester City or Tottenham?’, to ‘Who will be the next US President – Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump?’ and ‘Brexit – In or Out?’

South Korea, Canada, Belgium, USA, France, Tokyo, Switzerland, Spain, Denmark, Netherlands, Indonesia, Germany and Italy have all shown interest in replicating the Ballot Bin campaign.

Smokers and littering

The idea of the Ballot Bins is based on the best methods and research findings on how to stop cigarette littering. Hubbub found that litter was mainly generated at night by young men and that cigarette butts are the biggest litter issue in the UK.

35.2% of smokers litter, followed by 26% of people eating chewing gum. The voting bin was a response to these research findings and the sport-focused questions reflect the interests of the audience they are trying to reach.

Observational research showed that 29% of correct disposals corresponded to people using the voting bin while it was in on the street.

None of the collected cigarette butts will go to landfill. As part of the campaign, Hubbub is developing a partnership with TerraCycle, which recycles cigarette butts into a variety of useful plastic products, such as plastic lumber and boards that can be used for anything from construction holding and signage to table tops.

Sutton is the pioneer

Sutton will be the first council to introduce the ballot bins. Hubbub is working with Sutton Council to deliver Clean Streets Sutton – a litter reduction campaign designed to build civic pride and change behaviour towards littering.

‘We are delighted to be using the ballot bins as part of a range of measures for our Clean Streets Sutton campaign. 

‘Changing the behaviour of those who litter is crucial to having a clean, safe environment in our town centres, and also in saving money for the taxpayer. We spend millions each year clearing up waste, and, at a time when our budgets are being severely cut, any savings can make a big difference.’

CLLR JILL WHITEHEAD
Chair of the Environments and Neighbourhood Committee at Sutton Council

Sutton will install the ballot bins on the walls of three pubs on their high street, featuring the question: ‘Who’s your favourite Superhero – Batman or Superman?’

Any profits made from the Ballot Bin will go back into the charity and Hubbub’s ongoing work to explore fresh and creative approaches to tackling environmental issues.

Ballot Bins (£195) are available for pre-order here.