Calls for disposable vapes ban over environmental concerns

A pile of single-use vapes collected at a recycling centre
Disposable vapes collected at a recycling centre Credit: ITV

There are calls for a ban on disposable vapes due to worries about the effect they're having on the environment.

The vapes are made with plastic and their batteries contain lithium, which is a metal in short supply.

Vapes, or e-cigarettes, are viewed by some as a way of helping people give up smoking tobacco.

But recently single-use vapes have rocketed in popularity, leading to calls for them to be banned.

Libby Peake, head of resource policy at Green Alliance said: "It's quite simple. The government should ban them. There's absolutely no reason not to.

"They want people to use vapes to help them quit smoking and there are reusable options to do that. If they ban them then they'll prevent these environmental hazards."

An estimated one million disposable vapes are thrown away without being recycled every week. Credit: ITV News

The government says it's considering legislation changes to ensure the vaping sector foots the bill for the collection and treatment of used products, but says it has no immediate plans for a disposable vape ban.

Research from the recycling group Material Focus claims 1.3 million single use vapes are being thrown away every week.

That means every year ten tonnes of lithium inside the vapes is also being discarded - that's the same amount of lithium needed for 1,200 electric car batteries.

Justin Greenaway, who is the commercial director of a recycling firm, says reclaiming the lithium from disposable vapes takes time but is worthwhile.

He says:"We have to take them apart quite manually to separate the components that are inside of the vape. It's tricky, it's labour intensive, but they're very easily recyclable."

Scott Butler, from Material Focus, says disposable vape users should be encouraged to recycle their devices - and that requires action from the vaping industry.

"We want the producers and the retailers of these vapes to step up, meet their legal responsibilities and finance the cost of more local collection so that's collection points in shops, collection points in pubs and in bars."

The vaping industry association, the UKVIA, told ITV News it has organised a summit for interested parties to come up with a way of minimising the impact of vapes on the environment.

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