Philip Morris Malaysia – Initiative Towards Life On Land

Sustainability is one of the core focus areas for Philip Morris Malaysia (PMM) as we are cognizant of the role we have in making this world a better place and driving product innovation for the benefit of public health. Sustainability efforts at PMM are governed by four key strategic pillars: innovating for better products, operating with excellence, caring for the people we work with and protecting the environment.

Guided by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) #15: Life on Land where the focus is on “protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems,” PMM’s efforts have been greatly focused on reducing cigarette-butt filter which contaminates our living spaces and the overall environment, with indirect negative impacts to the economy as well.

To this end, PMM is piloting a cigarette-butt canister initiative, where we partner with Reef Check Malaysia to install close to 200 cigarette bins across the country. In this 9-month pilot project, these cigarette-butt canisters will be installed in strategic, high littering locations. Each month, Reef Check and PMM will be collecting the litter from these canisters, mapping out the data collected per location, and then transporting the butts to a secure location that will not impact surrounding environments. We expect this project to have a lasting impact; considering the potential collection of 10kg of cigarette butts from each canister, the amount of cellulose acetate, fine paper and smoke reside diverted from the environment and water sources will be significant.

The presence of cigarette butt litter not only has detrimental chemical effects on the soil and environment, but also ends up in waterways and sewages, disrupting water flow and contributing to flash floods. Moreover, the presence of cigarette butt litter is also known to attract further litter. More litter results in reluctance from the community (“Broken Windows Theory”) to further invest in their neighborhood,  which leads to avoidance by businesses to set-up shop in that neighborhood, social issues and ultimately impacting the availability of jobs and social mobility within the community at large.

Overall, the focus on cigarette-butt litter—statistically one of the most polluting items globally—is seemingly miniscule, but would actually go a long way towards generating a positive impact economically, socially and environmentally. It is the basis of which many other SDG goals can prosper upon.