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Disposables Set For Controls

The booming sector has been left to self-regulate when it comes to the environment and sustainability but that could be set to change in 2023

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The booming sector has been left to self-regulate when it comes to the environment and sustainability but that could be set to change in 2023. The UK looks set to witness the first major piece of vape legislation since the European Union’s Tobacco Products Directive was incorporated into national law.

Where the Tobacco Products Directive restricted bottle sizes, nicotine strength and the volume of vape tanks, other aspects of the vape market were left to self-regulate and some simply not foreseen.

The growth of the disposable ecig market brought with it now recognised issues such as the vast number of single-use plastics being dumped into standard landfill sites and the loss of valuable recyclable materials such as the lithium from disposable batteries.

Disposable e-cigarettes are now the most used product among current vapers, up more than 7-fold from 7% in 2020 and 8% in 2021, to 52% in 2022,” said a report produced last year by Action on Smoking and Health and Cancer Research UK. “Over the last year there has been growing concern about the increasing popularity of disposable vapes with young people, but this is the first-time national figures have been available to show the scale of the change. The increase in vaping shown by the survey is a cause for concern and needs close monitoring. However, 92% of under 18s who’ve never smoked, have also never vaped, and only 2% have vaped more frequently than once or twice.”

As well as parliament’s growing sense that companies are irresponsibly marketing to non-smoking teens through social media, there is then the environmental damage being caused by 1.3 million single-use vape products being discarded here every week.

The executive director of Material Focus, Scott Butler stated: “We need to take urgent action now and ensure that they get recycled. Throwing away vapes means that we are throwing away some of the most precious materials on our planet. Producers and retailers need to work together to ensure that they should make people aware that vapes should never be binned and instead be recycled.

But manufacturers, importers and distributors have been aware of this since entering the market. Geek Bar and Elfbar lead the disposables sector but failed to commit to a sustainable approach – or even make any mention of it – each time Planet of the Vapes posed the question during 2022.

Now matters may well be out of their hands.

One of the final debates held in Parliament prior to the Christmas break involved discussion on ‘the environmental impact of disposable vapes’.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Rebecca Pow told the chamber that the government has noticed children are “attracted” by the disposable vapes and that it plans to take action.

While she didn’t detail how it would approach preventing teen use, she did suggest that 2023 will see companies forced to join a producer compliance scheme. The indication is that importers will contribute to a clean-up fund and be compelled to conform to the WEEE waste recycling regulations.

The proliferation of this new kind of waste is quickly becoming a reality and a concern,” she stated.

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Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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