Cannes We Make Malmo Cleaner?

Skylt i Cannes France. Foto: Laurentiu Mihai-Info Express

In e.g. Cannes, in France, you see shiningly clean streets. And maybe this is where we can find a suitable model.

In Sweden, which includes Malmo, it is forbidden to litter. To throw away a smalla amount of items – e.g. fast food wrapping, bottles and the like – in e.g. the streets, is called nedskräpningsförseelse (littering misdemeanour) and you can get a fine of SEK 800 directly from a police officer. A graver littering crime can give you up to one year of imprisonment.

This possibility for the police to fine has been a reality since 2011. But as we see it, there are two major flaws in the handling of this law. Firstly, the authorities have not succeeded in spreading information about this law. At a quick, and very unscientific, poll that this paper conducted, only about 10 % knew of the existence of this law. Secondly, it seems like the police don’t really put an effort into it. The number of littering fines has decreased considerably each year. 2013 243 fines for littering were imposed. In 2017 it was down to 102. In Police District South (Scania, Blekinge and the greater part of Smaland) it is even worse. During the whole of 2017 as little as 12 fines were imposed and up until May this year the number was only 2.

A benevolent interpretation of this trend could be that the Swede (and the Scanian) has become better in keeping our country clean. The reports from Håll Sverige Rent, however, points in the opposite direction, and when wandering the streets of Malmo you also get another impression. In some parts, at least when making a visual inspection, it is really problematic.

One big problem is the cigarette butts, and these are not even included in the law. Trelleborg, however, now takes a leading role and introduces prohibition also against littering with cigarette butts. Hopefully other municipalities – and eventually also the government – follow. But it will not solve the problem. If no one, or very few, gets caught littering, the law will be powerless, and the country will be dirtier.

To most people Singapore is known for its meticulous cleanliness. Here the fines are between SEK 3500 and SEK 7000 the first time caught littering. If repeated the fines may be as high as SEK 20000 and you may be forced to a work order, having to clean the public space dressed in a light jacket say “Litterer”. In addition chewing gums are totally forbidden in Singapore.

Although Singapore’s streets are, more or less, clinically clean, their legislations might be a bit much for Sweden. But there are other examples where they have managed to keep the city clean.

In e.g. Cannes, in France, you see shiningly clean streets. And maybe this is where we can find a suitable model. There are four major differences between the French and the Swedish way:
1. The fines are considerably higher; € 180 for littering misdemeanour.
2. Littering misdemeanour includes throwing cigarette butts (and e.g. tissues and other smaller items).
3. There are much more PCs patrolling the streets. Admittedly their tasks are not primarily littering, but (maybe opposed to the Swedish police) they see it as serious and act accordingly.
4. The citizens are aware of the law, as it is clearly displayed.
If Cannes can can their cans, then Malmo can too. Can they not?

Obs. The article was published in the paper edition Aug 2018