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« Will the eradication of passive smoking be followed by the eradication of smokers? | Main | Pocket appeal »

How Hubbub beats Keep Britain Tidy in the litter lottery

I've been thinking about cigarette butts and the launch of Keep Britain Tidy's latest campaign, BinTheButt.

I understand that the campaign has been funded with a £400,000 grant from the People's Postcode Lottery.

I wonder how the Postcode Lottery will evaluate whether that is money well spent?

As far as I can tell BinTheButt is nothing more than a PR campaign, and a pretty unsuccessful one. If you ignore KBT’s frantic tweeting, the media coverage has been minimal and will be quickly forgotten.

Compare the ‘glitzy’ poster-driven KBT campaign with that of Hubbub, a charity that seeks creative and ‘playful’ solutions to environmental issues.

Unlike Keep Britain Tidy, Hubbub avoids tendentious, judgemental or emotive claims like accusing smokers of "flicking blue murder" and "poisoning the oceans".

More important, Hubbub actually has an idea designed to tackle the problem of cigarette litter. It’s called the Ballot Bin and it’s a "customisable bespoke ashtray that tackles cigarette butt litter".

Contrast that with KBT whose BinTheButt campaign launch was noticeable for an almost total absence of bins.

While there were plenty of giant butts on display, I saw just one campaign photo featuring a bin and I saw no mention of the need for councils to provide more cigarette bins to help smokers 'bin the butt'.

Instead of coming up with a practical solution, KBT was far more interested in pointing an accusing finger at smokers while giving the anti-smoking industry more ammunition to ban smoking outside.

If I have one criticism of the Hubbub ballot bin it's the design. It’s not cheap (over £200, I believe) but it looks like the sort of thing your grandad might have knocked up in his garage.

Then again, perhaps that is part of its charm. And it seems to work. According to the Local Government Association:

The Ballot Bin encourages the use of the ashtray by allowing the user to vote. When disposing their cigarette butt they can choose one of two receptacles. Each receptacle has a window to display the used butts, allowing a public opinion poll to be generated.

The question on the first bin was ‘Who’s the best football player? Ronaldo or Messi’. The ashtray went viral, orders came in from all over the world, and the bin proved to successfully reduce cigarette butt litter.

It’s also been reported that:

Observational research carried out during the [Neat Streets] campaign revealed that 29 per cent of ‘correct disposals’ were a result of people using the bins rather than littering.

In Southend, where 21 ballot bins were installed in the summer of 2017, the council reported a 46 per cent reduction in cigarette litter.

That's impressive. Can Keep Britain Tidy match that with their BinTheButt campaign? And how are they going to evaluate it?

I think we should be told.

Interestingly, Hubbub is not averse to working with the tobacco industry. According to the Tobacco Manufacturers Association website:

The TMA supported the ‘Neat Streets’ campaign in Villiers Street, London. The campaign was run over the course of several months and tested a number of new and innovative ways to tackle litter. A cigarette voting bin or ‘Ballot Bin’ proved to be very popular among smokers, reducing smoking litter by 46%, as well as catching the attention of the global media. The bin was trialled in Edinburgh where again it proved to very popular thanks to the use of targeted questions.

Hubbub, the social enterprise behind the ‘Neat Streets’ campaign approached the TMA for support in rolling out the bin to a wider audience. The bin has already been taken up by some private sector businesses, as well as a number of local authorities.

Again, contrast that with Keep Britain Tidy which severed its working relationship with the tobacco companies in December 2013 following pressure from the tobacco control industry.

It seems to me that one of these charities is genuinely trying to address the issue of cigarette litter while the other is merely going through the motions.

I’ll leave you to decide which is which.

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Reader Comments (2)

One is trying to address the problem of litter while the other thinks jumping on the hate smoker bandwagon will earn them funding and influence.

These so called "charities" are anything butt.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 11:45 | Unregistered Commenterpat nurse

Keep Britain Tidy's latest campaign, 'BinTheButt' is another example of the orchestrated persecution of smokers.

Real public education doesn't attack the public. A real anti-litter program would include smoking bins. It's time to stop the persecution of smokers!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018 at 23:44 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

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