Scottish Government launch urgent review into single-use vapes
THE Scottish Government has announced plans for an “urgent” review into the environmental impact of disposable vapes.
The move could eventually lead to an outright ban. It follows pressure from campaigners, including “Vaped Crusader” Laura Young, and Green MSP Gillian Mackay.
Circular economy minister Lorna Slater said: “Not only are single-use vapes bad for public health, they are also bad for the environment.
“From litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities, there are issues which need to be addressed urgently.
“We will consider the evidence and expert advice and come forward with policy options, which could include a potential ban on single-use vapes.
“In the meantime, we would urge everyone who uses these products to make sure they are disposed of properly.”
Zero Waste Scotland are to lead the review. Chief executive Iain Gulland said: “Single-use items, like disposable vapes, are becoming an all-too-common eyesore in areas where we live, work, and socialise, and can last in our environment for years and years.
“Tackling our throwaway culture is a priority here at Zero Waste Scotland and we are happy to lead on this important review.”
Ms Young said: “This review, and consideration of a ban cannot come quickly enough as we look to remove these harmful devices from our market.
“These have no place in a country moving towards net zero and a circular economy.
“Months of litter picking from streets, parks, and beaches, alongside campaigning efforts speaking to a variety of public health and environmental organisations has pushed this into the focus of the Scottish Government where we hope to see swift action to address the unintended consequences from these products.”
John Dunne, Director General of the UK Vaping Industry Association, warned that it could have unintended consequences.
He told The Herald: “The huge positive benefit that vaping brings – and especially the many disposable entry-level devices on the market – is that they are a very effective way to help adult smokers quit.
“This is evidenced by the latest Office of National Statistics (ONS) survey data which has shown that smoking rates in the UK are down to 13.3% (6.6 million people) – the lowest level since records began – and the ONS says that smokers switching to vaping played ‘a major role’ in the decrease in smoking in the UK.
“Banning single use vape devices is therefore not the answer as this would deny millions of adult smokers the opportunity to switch to an alternative to tobacco which is at least 95% less harmful than smoking.”
He said the industry recognised the impact the throwaway vapes were having on the environment. He said work was underway to “create a recycling solution that is fit for purpose for the vaping sector.”
Mr Dunne added: “The fact is that the recycling of vapes is not straightforward as it needs collaboration between adult vapers, retailers, manufacturers, the regulators and companies in the waste management sector, which are involved in the current Producer Compliance Schemes under the WEEE regulations.”
“Up to now there has been genuine confusion amongst the vaping sector about their responsibilities under the WEEE directive.
“Earlier this year the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment alluded to uncertainty around whether regulations covered the type of batteries found in vapes and also questioned the recycling infrastructure in place to support the sector to be more sustainable.
“This is why we are working hard as an industry to find a waste management solution that minimises the impact of vapes on the environment, particularly when it comes to single use disposables, so they are seen for what they do best – helping adult smokers kick their habits and save the lives of millions as well as millions of pounds for the health service.”