Individuals, businesses, and organisations are being urged to have their say on proposed action to tackle the devastating environmental impact of vaping.
North London Waste Authority (NLWA) is calling on the government to ban all single-use vapes as part of new legislation to create a smokefree generation.
A consultation has been launched by the Department of Health and Social Care, seeking views on how to reduce the appeal, affordability and availability of vapes - including potential restrictions on the sale and supply of disposable products.
NLWA has created a template response for those wishing to take part, setting out why a total ban on unnecessary and unsustainable single-use vapes is the simplest solution when there are reusable and refillable options available. Due to their complex material composition, single -use vapes will always be logistically difficult, labour intensive and expensive to recycle.
Cllr Clyde Loakes, NLWA Chair, said: “Plastic is wreaking havoc on the environment and while we welcome existing efforts to tackle this problem, disposable vapes are even more toxic than the single-use cutlery, balloon sticks and plates already banned.
“They also contain precious metals which are critical for our green transition but currently being depleted at an unsustainable rate, and are also a major fire risk due to the lithium battery inside.
“It isn’t fair that the burden of disposal falls on taxpayers, especially when there are reuseable alternatives readily available. Our voices are stronger together, and we must show we are united in wanting to tackle the climate emergency and protect our planet. So, I urge everyone to respond to the consultation using the template provided and suggested response.”
Creating a smokefree generation and tackling youth vaping: How to respond.
The consultation covers three broad areas and there is no requirement to answer every question, so our template response specifically relates to restricting the supply and sale of disposable vaping products. Each question is multiple choice, with a free text box for comments and evidence. The consultation closes at 11:59pm on 6 December 2023 so please respond online by then to urge the government to consider a single-use vapes ban on environmental grounds.
Q1: Do you agree or disagree that there should be restrictions on the sale and supply of disposable vapes? That is, those that are not rechargeable, not refillable or that are neither rechargeable nor refillable.
Suggested answer: Agree
Comments: Disposable vapes contribute to the fastest growing waste stream in the UK, destroying vital resources and polluting our planet. Their complex material composition means that they will always be logistically difficult, labour intensive and expensive to recycle, which is why we believe a total ban is the best solution.
As the UK’s second largest waste disposal authority, North London Waste Authority encourages residents to either take their single-use vapes to one of its eight reuse and recycling centres or use a take-back scheme - but these are inconsistent despite the legal obligations on retailers. With a large proportion being disposed of incorrectly, it is time to take action and preserve our environment and precious resources, especially when there are reusable alternatives available.
Q2: Do you agree or disagree that restrictions on disposable vapes should take the form of prohibiting their sale and supply?
Suggested answer: Agree
Comments: While we appreciate that vapes may be a tool to help people stop smoking, there are refillable and reusable options already on the market and these need to be promoted as the only option. Disposable vapes are unnecessary and unsustainable.
Plastic is wreaking havoc on the environment and while we welcome existing efforts to tackle this problem, disposable vapes are even more toxic than the single-use items already banned. Taxpayers should not have to bear the costs of recycling them, picking them up when they’ve been littered, or repairing vehicles and machinery which have been damaged by battery fires.
Q3: Do you agree or disagree that an implementation period for restrictions on disposable vapes should be no less than 6 months after the law is introduced?
Suggested answer: Disagree
Comments: An estimated 420,000 disposable vapes are bought in north London alone every single month, with more than half ending up littering our streets or being thrown in the bin, so urgent action is needed. They contain precious lithium and copper, which are critical for our green transition but are being depleted at an unsustainable rate. The disposable vapes sold in north London each year contain the same amount of copper as at least 11 vital electrical vehicle charging stations.
Single-use vapes are also dangerous for rubbish collectors as the lithium batteries inside are a major fire risk. In fact, research by Material Focus found that more than 700 fires in bin lorries and recycling centres across the country have been caused by batteries in general waste.
We need to act now to prevent further damage to vehicles and machinery, environmental destruction and harm to lives.
Q4: Are there other measures that would be required, alongside restrictions on supply and sale of disposable vapes, to ensure the policy is effective in improving environmental outcomes?
Comments: We need to move away from a dangerous throwaway culture, and that includes limiting all unnecessary single-use items wherever possible. Reusable and refillable vapes and associated products which remain on the market must be easily recyclable, including their packaging. The burden for ensuring these items are recycled should be put on retailers and manufacturers, not local authorities.