The Stars’n’Bars restaurant in Monaco has won the Energy Globe Award for its 2019 social media campaign to reduce ocean pollution created by discarded cigarette butts.

According to Kate Powers, co-founder of Stars’n’Bars: “Each year billions of cigarette butts are thoughtlessly thrown on the ground or dropped into sewer grates and end up in the sea. A cigarette contains more than 4,000 pollutants – heavy metals, nicotine, pesticide residues; once at sea it takes 15 years to decompose. One cigarette butt can pollute up to 500 litres of water.

“Inspired by actions in other counties, Stars’n’Bars initiated a public awareness campaign on its social media. We offered a free glass of beer or soda for a container filled with cigarette butts collected by customers from the local port area. The response was immediate, both adults and children arrived at the restaurant with bottles and glasses filled with cigarette butts. In just one month, 2,354 cigarette butts were collected, saving up to 1,177,000 litres of water.

Postings on the Stars’n’Bars Facebook page promoting the campaign were shared more than 1,300 times in less than two days. The Monaco and French press also broadcast and published interviews and articles on the campaign, boosting the effort even further.

“Our goal, however, was to reduce or eliminate waste rather than just dispose of it. Thankfully, we were able to pass on the many kilos of cigarette butts to Eco Megot in southwest France.  This innovative group is engaged  not only in collecting cigarette butts. EcoMegot also conducts research to develop a  technique to recycle the three waste streams of a cigarette: tobacco, paper and filter. The butts are used in their laboratories to find a permanent solution to this global problem.

“Today, Stars’n’Bars continues to raise public awareness about the dangers of cigarette waste with messages posted both inside and outside the restaurant. We urge our customers and passersby to “think before you flick.”  We also organise regular port clean=ups after major events such as the Grand Prix and Monaco Yacht Show, calling on volunteers to become Stars’n’Bars “EcoAngels”. In 2019, during World Clean-Up Day, we were even joined by Prince Albert II who is a world leader in protecting the environment.”

The Award was created more than 20 years ago by the Energy Globe Foundation, whose partners include UNIDO, the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, and the international offices of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce.