But the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Naturvårdsverket) believes that more lenient methods will be just as effective, reports news agency TT.
Around 50 authorities have responded to suggestions for measures against littering put forward by Naturvårdsverket on request of the government.
Helsingborg Municipality has called for even minor littering to be punishable by fines, reports TT.
“It is illegal to litter, so we think it should be punishable by fining,” Elisabeth Lindkvist, development engineer with Helsingborg Municipality, told the news agency.
“If fines are not given on the spot then the effect of it being illegal is reduced,” said Lindqvist.
The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (Sveriges kommuner och landsting, SKL) is also among the 11 authorities that supports littering fines.
“It’s not just about the symbolic value, minor littering should also be fined,” Ann-Sofie Eriksson, section chief with SKL, told TT.
Almost 80 percent of litter thrown on the ground in Sweden is tobacco-related, according to a report by Keep Sweden Tidy (Håll Sverige Rent).
This includes both cigarette butts and discarded snus, a powdered tobacco product that is placed under the top lip and is illegal in every EU country except for Sweden.
Johanna Ragnartz of Keep Sweden Tidy says that the current law on littering is unclear and should be made clearer – for example, by fining all forms of littering.
Exactly how fining would be implemented in practice is currently unclear, with catching someone in the act of littering not straightforward and police resources already stretched.
Naturvårdsverket has not proposed a method of imposing fines, but is aware that there is broad support for extending fines to tobacco and snus.
But the authority also believes in the effectiveness of other methods such as information campaigns.
“We think it’s absolutely not okay to litter, but we don’t think that punishment gives the best result,” Emma Sjöberg, environmental lawyer with Naturvårdsverket, told TT.
Minister for the Environment Karolina Skog said that fining is just one of many measures that can be taken against littering, but declined to comment on whether it should be broadened.
“It is excellent that this issue has come on to the agenda and that awareness is increasing,” the minister told TT.
“In the end, this is a question of behaviour and our own responsibility as individuals,” she added.