Bordeaux drains painted in cigarette butt waste alert

The artist is painting drain grates and manholes to raise awareness of the contamination issue

A team of artists in Bordeaux is painting drain grates and manhole covers to raise awareness of how much dropped cigarette butts contribute to river pollution.

Artist Charlie Devier (and his assistants Lyse, Sonia and Maxime) are working as part of a joint campaign calledLa Garonne Commence Ici (The Garonne Starts Here)”, launched with the Bordeaux Métropole authority.

The project is a joint work with artist Charlie Devier (Facebook / Bam Projects)

The group is using natural and non-polluting paint, which will slowly disappear over the course of the summer. The work began in the Mériadeck neighbourhood, and has included Place du Marché des Chartrons. On Friday June 28, the team will reach Place Fernard Lafargue.

On Sunday (June 30), Mr Devier will undertake a tour of the works, in the form of a performance.

The aim of the campaign is to highlight awareness of the fact that litter dropped in the city’s streets - especially cigarette butts - contributes directly to pollution of the Garonne river.

Assistants are helping the project (Facebook / Bam Projects)

More than 200 million cigarette butts are dropped in the streets of Bordeaux every year.

Dropped cigarette butts get swept down drains, and enter the city’s waterworks system, ultimately ending up in the river. Each butt can leach up to 2,500 toxic substances into the water.

Marie Ladonne, contemporary art producer at art agency BAM, which helped to coordinate the project, said: “Charlie (Devier) asked us to work with him on his ‘Regards de Chaussée (Roadside Manholes)’ project, which was born five years earlier. So, we approached the Métropole for authorisation from the sanitation service, and during the talks, they told us they were going to launch the ‘The Garonne Starts Here’” campaign.

The campaign is targeting busy parts of the city (Facebook / Bam Projects)

Bordeaux has one of the largest water cleaning networks in France, but the damage can already be done before the cigarette butt is filtered out.

Ms Ladonne said: “A treatment plant will filter out the butt, but it will have already contaminated the water.”

In a statement, the Bordeaux Métropole said: “Littering in the street is littering in the Garonne, and beyond that, the estuary and the ocean. To protect our natural environment, Bordeaux Métropole is raising residents’ awareness of a simple act: throw your rubbish in the rubbish bins provided for this purpose!”

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