Chinese city offering money to pick up cigarette butts

A Chinese city has launched an unique initiative to encourage residents to keep the streets clean by paying those who pick up discarded cigarette butts.

Last Updated: Oct 28, 2010, 20:58 PM IST

Beijing: A Chinese city has launched an
unique initiative to encourage residents to keep the streets
clean by paying those who pick up discarded cigarette butts.

The campaign was launched in north China`s Shaanxi
province`s Xianyang city in September. But authorities
virtually ran out of funds as one month collection alone
mounted to a whopping seven million butts.

The government was in a quandary as its scheme to pay
0.05 yuan (USD 0.0075) for every cigarette butt collected
resulted in payment of more than 100,000 yuan (USD 16,000).

The authorities could not make the payments for five
million butts due to shortage of funds.

Such was the response from the "loyal citizens" that
one person handed over 7,500 butts at one time. Most of the
participants who took part in the "butt" hunting in city are
old people and students, looking to make easy money, state run
China Daily reported.

China New Service which featured the story blamed it
on opportunists.

"Unfortunately, some people turned out to be naked
opportunists who resorted to fraud by collecting the butts
from net cafes, restaurants or even garbage bins to get a
reward," its report said.

Officials however defended the drive saying that it
won praise from the locals.

"We started the drive as part of an effort to make our
city more clean and civilised, increase public environmental
awareness and warn against the dangers of smoking."

PTI