Ballot Bin on Salisbury Road.

Alright, butt? Cardiff smokers can vote for their favourite chips topping – by stubbing out their cigarettes

The ‘ballot bins’ aim to stop people dropping their fag ends on the street

SMOKERS in Cardiff are being asked whether they prefer curry sauce or gravy on their chips – and they can use cigarette butts to cast their vote.

Cardiff Council has installed three Ballot Bins in popular smoking spots around the city centre.

Smokers can pop their cigarette butt in the hole marked ‘curry sauce’ or ‘gravy’. Each discarded ciggie counts as a vote.

It is hoped that introducing the fun element will encourage people not to drop their butts on the street. The effect on cigarette litter will be monitored over the next six weeks.

Each bin is near a pub or bar – Pryzm on Greyfriars Road, Misfits on Salisbury Road and Pear Tree on Wellfield Road –where people tend to smoke outside.

UK charity Hubbub, who made the product in collaboration with design company Common Works, say that dropping cigarettes on the ground constitutes the “last socially acceptable type of littering”.

They say their bins have proven to reduce cigarette litter by up to 46 percent.

The package also includes magnetic letters so that the question and answers on the bin can be changed.

Hubbub donated two Ballot Bins to Bristol City Council in March 2022, asking smokers to vote between daps and plimsolls and roast dinner or full English breakfast, before the launch of the Bristol’s Binning campaign later in the year.

Cardiff Council says their six-week trial with the bins uses “external funding”.

Smoking gun

Cigarettes are the most littered item in the world, Hubbub say – with only a third of butts finding their way into a bin.

Image: Vicky Gharat on Pixabay.

The health effects of smoking are common knowledge but research from 2022 found a distinct lack of awareness among UK smokers about how their cigarettes could damage the environment.

A third wrongly believed their cigarettes decomposed within a year. In truth, cigarettes take up to ten years to break down into micro-plastics and never fully decompose.

Only 28 percent of smokers knew that cigarettes were made from plastic.

What do the people of Cathays think?

With a large student population and no shortage of places to eat and drink, Salisbury Road in Cathays is one place the council thinks can benefit from a “playful” bin where people can dispose of their cigarettes.

A manager at Misfits Social Club, who asked not to be named, thinks people will use the bin because it is “something different”.

“As someone that lives in Cathays, it’s nice to see them getting rid of waste in a different way.”

They did not feel that less cigarette litter would have an effect on the bar’s business.

The three trial bins.

Misfits customers were divided on whether a discrete yellow box could dissuade smokers from dropping their butts on the ground.

“Depends where you put it,” said one smoker. “By Sunday, I reckon it will be at least half, if not full.”

The bins can hold between 400 and 600 butts at a time.

Another felt the bin was not enough to make a difference: “I noticed it the other day. I had a look at it – didn’t know what it was, though,” they said.

“I think a lot of people are set in their own minds. They’re not gonna pay attention to it.”