The UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) has announced the publication of a "Greenprint for Sustainable Vaping" following an industry-wide consultation.
The move comes in response to growing concerns about the environmental impact of vapes, particularly single-use products, known as disposables. The development of the action plan was carried out in collaboration with leading players in the waste industry, regulators, the retail sector, vape manufacturers, and experts in consumer behaviour.
John Dunne, the director general of UKVIA, said that the Greenprint aims to mobilise environmental action to support a sustainable vaping sector in the future. It covers the development of recycling infrastructure which is fit for the vaping industry, new vape innovations that make products more recyclable and reusable, as well as the support that needs to be put in place to encourage greater retailer and consumer participation in the environmentally-conscious disposal of vape products.
The Greenprint's action list includes measures aimed at retailers, consumers, product design, waste infrastructure, and regulatory and policy changes. Retailers will be encouraged to inform vapers that refillable, multi-use devices are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than single-use systems. They will also provide in-store collection points for all used vape devices brought in for disposal, and in-store collection points will be prominently located with no obligations for those dropping off devices to buy more.
The Greenprint also calls for manufacturers and/or retailers to offer incentives to customers for recycling used devices, and for the industry to refer to disposables as recyclables, not single-use products, in order to stop throwaway behaviors. Vape manufacturers and retailers will be encouraged to incorporate recycling guidance and messages in future promotional campaigns and on/within packaging.
In terms of product design, the Greenprint recommends that packaging better highlights to consumers that vape devices must be recycled and not thrown away, and explores how single-use vape products can be re-engineered for future use. The industry will also look at more environmentally-friendly power sources than lithium batteries.
The Greenprint also calls for regulatory changes, including proportionate regulation to ensure that manufacturers are environmentally responsible but without deterring smokers from switching to vaping. All relevant vape businesses will be required to be compliant with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013, the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, and the Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) Regulations 2023.
Producers will also be required to either register with an environmental regulator or join a Producer Compliance Scheme, depending on product volumes. Finally, legislation will be revised to increase maximum tank sizes from 2ml to 10ml to reduce waste drastically.