Action for the River Kennet says disposable vapes 'new and concerning' threat to waterways

  • ITV News Meridian's Juliette Fletcher has been speaking to the conservation group about the issue of vapes in rivers

An environmental group has warned that disposable vapes pose a "new and concerning threat" to waterways.Action for the River Kennet (Ark) in Berkshire says the devices are causing a "pollution crisis".

Hundreds have been pulled out of the river in the Newbury area in the past few months alone.Unless action is taken the charity says the local ecosystem could be permanently harmed.

Senior project officer at Ark, Anna Forbes said: "Vapes are made of plastic which is going to take a long time to break down, and add to the pollution in our rivers and turning into microplastics.

"They also contain lots of nasty chemicals and metals that are not going to do anything to improve our river quality."

Ark has over 400 Volunteers that help to keep the rivers clean by litter picking items that are polluting the streams. Credit: ITV News Meridian

In a recent litter pick a bit further along the river in Marlborough, 424 items of rubbish were pulled from the water in one morning - two-thirds of the items were plastic and 20 of the items were vapes.

Volunteer, Martin Thomas said: "We get a whole range of stuff - from bicycles to scooters. I've pulled exhaust pipes out of the rivers as well.

"Some of it has been there a long time and some haven't. It's a great pity."

One study has shown that the number of disposable vapes thrown away in the UK has soared from 1.3 million to nearly five million per week.

This is equivalent to eight per second being disposed of.

Part of the problem may be that vapes cannot be binned at home, as they need to go back to a vape shop or recycling centre. Credit: ITV News Meridian

The River Kennet is one of only 260 chalk streams in the world, and home to critically endangered species.

Most of the river is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), but despite this, the river is already suffering from a multitude of pressures - like sewage and agricultural pollution and climate change and this is just another concern to add to the list.

Ark would like to see a ban on single-use vapes in a bid to protect rivers.

MPs are discussing plans to restrict the sale of vapes to children.

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