Research last year from Material Focus showed that of disposable single-use vapes thrown away has soared from 1.3 million to nearly five million per week.
The research also showed that in 2022 the group identified that 700 fires are caused by batteries hidden inside electricals such as vapes in the waste stream.
The ban follows the launch of a WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) regulation consultation, wherein proposed measures aim to ensure that suppliers of vapes bear the financial responsibility for the separate collection and treatment of these items as waste. This will be achieved by designating vapes as a distinct category under the regulations, compelling producers to cover the recycling costs.
The regulations also encompass additional measures, such as extending obligations for online marketplaces like Amazon to contribute to the collection and financing of recycling for waste electricals. Defra emphasised that this extension would enforce compliance not only for British businesses but also for major international suppliers.
Defra further stated that enhancing the collection and recycling of waste electricals has the potential to stimulate increased investment in the UK's treatment and re-use sector.
Environment Secretary Steve Barclay said: Not only are disposable vapes often targeted, unacceptably, at children – they also represent a huge and growing stream of hard-to-recycle waste, with nearly 5 million thrown away every week.
“This historic announcement will be a powerful tool in support of our efforts to crack down on waste and boost recycling, as well as helping to create the first smoke-free generation.”
The government outlined that new powers will be introduced to restrict flavours which are specifically marketed at children and ensure that manufacturers produce plainer, less visually appealing packaging.
The powers will also allow government to change how vapes are displayed in shops, moving them out of sight of children and away from products “that appeal to them like sweets”.
To deter underage sales, the government has said it will impose fines on shops in England and Wales that illegally sell vapes to children. In addition to this trading standards officers will have the authority to take immediate action against any business they believe to be selling to anyone underage, complementing existing fines imposed by local authorities.
The government plans to allocate £30 million annually to enforcement agencies, including Border Force, HM Revenue and Customs, and Trading Standards, to ensure the implementation of this ban
View our previous story on single-use vapes, 'Number of vapes disposed in UK is 5 million per week. [14.09.2023]'