The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England and Wales, has called for the government to ban the sale and manufacture of single-use vapes by 2024.
Disposable vapes are a “hazard” for waste and litter collection and cause fires in bin lorries, according to the Local Government Association (LGA), which says they should be banned on environmental and health grounds.
Research commissioned by Material Focus identified that 1.3 million disposable vapes are thrown away every week in the UK – two every second.
However, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) says disposable vapes help smokers quit and can be recycled. Director General of the UKVIA John Dunne, told Circular Online it’s “no coincidence” that the decline in smoking has coincided with the rise in popularity of disposable vapes due to their ease of use and accessibility.
Councils urge the government to take this action to protect our planet, keep children safe and save taxpayers money.
“They have proved extremely popular amongst those on low incomes who are amongst the most prevalent smokers,” Dunne said.
The LGA says the lithium batteries inside the disposable vapes’ plastic can “sharply increase” in temperature if crushed and can become flammable. Councils have also warned that single-use vapes are “almost impossible” to recycle without going through special treatment because their batteries cannot be separated from the plastic casing.
Disposable vapes cost the council taxpayer, the LGA says, because of fire damage to equipment and the specialist treatment needed to recycle the products.
As the EU has proposed a ban by 2026 and France is rolling out a ban in December 2023, the LGA said a UK ban must come into effect “rapidly” so more disposable vapes don’t come into the UK as other markets close.
Disposable vapes are fundamentally flawed in their design and inherently unsustainable products
Cllr David Fothergill, Chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board said: “Councils are not anti-vapes, which are shown to be less harmful than smoking and have a place as a tool to use in smoking cessation.
“However, disposable vapes are fundamentally flawed in their design and inherently unsustainable products, meaning an outright ban will prove more effective than attempts to recycle more vapes.
“Single-use vapes blight our streets as litter, are a hazard in our bin lorries, are expensive and difficult to deal with in our recycling centres. Their colours, flavours and advertising are appealing to children and the penalties for retailers selling them don’t go far enough.
“Councils urge the government to take this action to protect our planet, keep children safe and save taxpayers money.”
Last year (2022), 18 environment and health groups wrote to Thérèse Coffey and Steve Barclay calling for disposable vapes to be banned, including Green Alliance, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Marine Conservation Society and RSPCA.