In 2019 199 fines were issued. Last year the figure rose to 477 and during the first half of 2021 198 fines were issued. Combatting the waste created by thrown away fag ends is a priority for the city administration. 30% of waste found on the streets of Brussels is associated with fag ends. They create an awful lot of work for streetcleaners and are bad for the environment. It can take up to 15 years for a fag end to degrade. If the fag end ends up in sewerage and finally in the sea it can pollute 500 litres of water.
The City of Brussels has launched a public awareness campaign and increased the number of ashtrays in the street. Brussels even has 131 smart ashtrays. These ashtrays operate on a battery fuelled by solar panels and press the fag ends together ahead of recycling. The smart ashtrays even tell the cleaning department when they are full!
In 2020 just over 900,00 fag ends were recycled via ashtrays in the street. Recycling has been entrusted to a French company with an English name ‘We Circular’. The fag ends are sent to France where a subcontractor purifies them. Fag ends are made of the plastic cellulose acetate. They are pressed together and turned into plates that can be used to produce office furnishings like clocks, coasters and ashtrays.