Beer cans, not butts targeted by new litter law

Being caught throwing a beer can anywhere else than in the trash is set to become a costly affair in Sweden after a new law to combat litterbugs comes into effect in July.

Beer cans, not butts targeted by new litter law

Leaving behind beverage cans, ready meal packaging or disposable grills will cost offenders 800 kronor ($126) while tossing cigarette butts, candy wrappers, chewing gum or discarded bus tickets on the ground will carry no fine, the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper reports.

Chemicals, such as paint or fire-lighting fluid, both of which could be seen as a threat to the environment, will lead to trial and up to a year in prison.

The levels of the fines for littering offences were determined by the Swedish Prosecutor-General (Riksåklagaren) following the passage of a new law on littering by the Riksdag at the beginning of the month.

“We have looked at other fines and have then tried to determine how potentially dangerous the behaviour is,” said Peter Lundkvist of the Prosecutor-General’s office to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

Police believe that the new rules will mean more fines and cleaner cities for Sweden.

“If the place is cleaner it will automatically be a bit safer,” said Rita Hedlund Zwierz, of the Stockholm police to DN earlier this year.

Environment minister Andreas Carlgren said in the spring that the intention of the new law isn’t to make people pay fines but get them to stop littering.

“Anyone going for a stroll on a summer morning near popular parks are often met with frightening amounts of litter in the form of food wrappers, disposable grills and the like,” said Carlgren in a statement in March.

It is already against the law to leave litter in parks and other public places, but up until now the police hasn’t been able to give offenders a ticket at the scene of the crime, a fact that Carlgren thinks will be combatted through the new law.

“Today it is too difficult to hold offenders accountable but with the change to the law police will be able to fine offenders on the spot,” Carlgren said.

The new law will come into effect on July 10th 2011.

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