Vaping News

Shocking Findings from Material Focus

One of the UK’s industry organisations has responded to the shocking findings of a Material Focus study showing that Over 90% of vape producers and retailers in the UK are still failing to meet environmental regulations

Share on:
With the forthcoming ban on single-use vapes due to be implemented in 2025, new research by Material Focus has identified that a quarter of a billion plus vapes will be thrown away in the run up to the ban, and that there is an ineffective system for managing these vapes with both vape producers and vape retailers failing to meet their environmental obligations. Over 90% of vape producers and retailers in the UK are still failing to meet environmental regulations, says Material Focus.

Material Focus found:

  • Since 2023 vape producers and retailers have not increased their compliance with environmental regulations despite media and political spotlight.
  • Without immediate action on retailer takeback and recycling at least a quarter of a billion single-use vapes will get thrown away if there is a twelve-month lead into the ban announced on 29th January 2024.
  • Over 90% of vape producers and 90% retailers are not fulfilling their statutory obligations to provide and pay for takeback and recycling for vapes.
  • Vape drop off points were available in 33% of 57 specialist vape retailers. However, high street brands and convenience stores provided very little or zero recycling drop-off points for vapes.
  • Sales of disposable single-use vapes are now at least 360 million per year.
  • For all the disposable single-use vapes sold in the UK this would be equivalent to providing the lithium in the batteries for over 6,700 electric vehicles in the UK.
  • The cost of recycling all the disposable single-use vapes bought in the UK could be up to £200 million per annum.

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus said: “Disposable single-use vapes are one of the most environmentally wasteful, damaging and dangerous consumer products ever made – losing valuable and critical raw materials, polluting land and waterways, posing hazards to wildlife and presenting major fire risks due to the volatility of the lithium batteries inside of them. The environmental responsibilities of vape producers and retailers are very clear. Any company that is producing significant quantities of electrical items is required to register, report their sales and finance the cost of their product being recycled. Retailers are also responsible for ensuring that it’s easy for their customers to recycle these products by providing recycling drop off points in their stores. This isn’t just an issue for specialist vape companies. Well-known high street supermarkets, newsagents, petrol stations and convenience store chains are profiting from disposable vapes at significant cost to the environment and at major risk to the public and wildlife.

“It is shocking that there has been so little progress since last year. As sales and profits have boomed the environmental impacts and costs of collecting and recycling waste vapes have been disregarded. With the forthcoming ban on single-use vapes due to be implemented in 2025 it is vital that the quarter of a billion plus vapes, that could be thrown away in the run up to the ban, are instead collected for recycling and that we put in place an effective and accessible system for managing the recycling of new vape products, such as pods already coming onto the market.

“Anything with a plug, battery or cable can be recycled and should never be binned or littered. To find your nearest recycling point search Recycle Your Electricals.”

John Dunne, Director General, UK Vaping Industry Association, sent his response to Planet of the Vapes: “All retailers and producers of vaping products need to take their environmental responsibility seriously and we would certainly expect those who are UKVIA members to be compliant with the existing regulations. These figures are very concerning and more needs to be done, not just by retailers who must shoulder their responsibility, but also Government and regulators, who need to police compliance effectively. We briefed our members on the updated regulations at the start of this year and we will continue to stress that all retailers, whether UKVIA members or not, make any necessary changes by the April deadline. We also work closely with the Office of Product Safety and Standards to ensure the right controls are in place.

“The UKVIA has long recognised and acknowledged the challenges presented by single-use vapes and have led on a number of key initiatives to encourage vape retailers, producers and consumers to play their part in reducing environmental waste.

“The most effective step the Government can take to ensure compliance would be to introduce a licensing scheme for vape retailers where a license to operate is predicated on a take-back facility being in place. We have been calling for such a scheme for many years now, not only for this reason, but also to ensure retailers are only selling legal vapes to adults and not children

“We would also urge local authorities to play their part in recycling vapes. A new FOI investigation from the UKVIA found 80% of surveyed councils have no plans to introduce new vape recycling services in the next year and a third don’t currently offer drop off points for used vapes of any kind. Material Focus is calling for the introduction of vape waste collection points in parks and other public spaces and this is clearly an area where local authorities could really make a difference.

The UKVIA is holding an event in April where both the vape and the waste industry can work better together to meet the environmental challenge of recycling vapes”.


Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
View Articles

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.

Join the discussion

Vaping News

Harm Reduction For The Rich

The United Kingdom risks becoming a harm reduction country only for the wealthy, according to Michael Landl of the World Vapers’ Alliance

Vaping News

Sacrificing Health For 2p Cut

Tory Government alienates vaping voters with its mission to cut tax by an unaffordable 2p to attract voters by placing a tax on vape products in the forthcoming budget

Vaping News

Scotland Announces Single-Use Vape Action

A ban on the sale and supply of single-use vapes in Scotland is due to come into effect on 1 April 2025, under proposed legislation published today

Vaping News

Industry Licensing Scheme Proposed

A vape industry licensing scheme will generate £50m+ per year to combat underage and illicit vape sales according to industry experts