Designing the ‘perfect’ portable ashtray. Why should it matter?
Globally, trillions of cigarette butts are thrown into our environment every day. Most cigarette filters are made from cellulose acetate fibres. Cellulose acetate is a plastic that is slow to degrade. What’s more, cigarette filters leach harmful toxins into the environment.
We think a portable ashtray is one easy solution to ‘on the go’ cigarette litter in the UK. So why aren’t the majority of UK smokers using them?
Clean Up Britain, as part of a large scale public survey, has gathered data on how smokers would use a portable ashtray and the ‘optimum’ design to continue or encourage this use. Good design will increase the use of portable ashtrays and reduce cigarette litter.
Over 2019/20 we set out to comprehensively analyse a variety of portable ashtray designs with the help of the general public. As far as Clean Up Britain can establish (and we’ve looked extensively) there has never been a quantitative research survey carried out on the use and design of portable ashtrays in Britain.
To do this we set up a diverse range of Smokers’ Focus Groups to gather qualitative data on what they thought about various designs of ashtray. Participants even had a hand at designing what they felt was their ‘perfect’ portable ashtray. Our Focus Group research made it clear that many factors come into play to create a user friendly design. Some of our findings were quite surprising, such as the audible ‘click when closed’ valued by the majority of participants. Size and minimal/no smell were also considered important.
In our second phase of research we rolled out over 500 hundred portable ashtrays, free, for the general public to trial. A big thank you to local Warwickshire businesses and organisations that supported us with such an ambitious roll out! Once trialled, participants filled out a simple, anonymous survey to provide feedback on the design of portable ashtray they trialled.
Assessing the two pieces of research together (qualitative and quantitative), there are two very strong themes. Firstly, that a majority of smokers are open to the concept of using a portable ashtray (albeit in different circumstances). Secondly, there is very considerable room for design innovation and improvement on the style of portable ashtrays currently on the market.
With this study now concluded Clean Up Britain has produced a 72 page report ‘Portable Ashtrays in the UK – Report on the Quantitative Research, January 2020’