Why are garbage fines so high

Throwing away "butts" is punishable by up to 150 euros

The city of Cologne is taking action against rubbish and pollution sinners with significantly increased "penalties". The first new sentences of the municipal catalog of warnings and fines will come into force on September 1, 2019.

First of all, the warning fee, which has been increased from 35 to 50 euros, for throwing away cigarette butts will come into force on September 1, 2019. Repeat offenders can expect a fine of 100 euros. If cigarette butts are thrown on playgrounds, in green areas, in landscape protection areas and in canals, 150 euros are due for this administrative offense. The minimum rate of 50 euros is due for throwing butts on asphalt surfaces such as sidewalks, streets and pedestrian zones.

The city also wants to significantly increase the warning and fines for throwing away, burying or burning other objects in public spaces. The final coordination talks are currently in progress.

Lord Mayor Henriette Reker:

In many conversations, citizens, guests, business enterprises and young people criticize the pollution in Cologne again and again. As a city, we have ensured that more waste paper bins are set up, have organized and paid for additional cleaning. There is no excuse for those who simply throw their butts or rubbish away on the streets or in parks. Those who ignore all offers will then have to dig deeper into their pockets.

Cigarette butts are the most common waste product in the world. The filters are made of the plastic cellulose acetate and, depending on the external environment, it can take up to 15 years for them to decompose. An average of two to six milligrams of nicotine can be washed into the soil and water from a stub. In addition to the neurotoxin nicotine, cigarette butts contain arsenic, copper, lead and hundreds of other chemicals. In small children, a swallowed butt can already lead to symptoms of poisoning such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. When smoking, the pollutants collect in the butts and stubs. Rain washes away toxins from the butts. Nicotine and other pollutants end up in the sewer system in wastewater or via the soil into the groundwater.

The city council reminds that it is not a problem to properly dispose of the butts in the garbage can and especially to use the ashtrays in front of restaurants and shopping centers. The purchase of small, lockable "pocket ashtrays" offered by retailers can also be a good solution for smoking outdoors.

According to Paragraph 28, Paragraph 1 of the Recycling Management Act (KrWG), waste for the purpose of disposal may only be treated, stored or deposited in the approved facilities (waste disposal facilities). In view of the pollution and littering of the environment, the municipalities are also required to pay more attention to this and to punish illegal waste disposal.