Thank you for contacting me about vaping and the environment.
As the Prime Minister set out last month the Government will consider restricting/banning the sale of disposable vapes and is working at pace to gather views on this. It was only last month that the Prime Minister indicated that it would consult on this and within a fortnight, the consultation had been launched. I very much hope that you will take part in the consultation if you have not done so already so that the Government knows about your understandable concerns about the impact that disposable vapes have on wildlife. The consultation is specifically considering restrictions on the sale and supply of disposable vaping products, including prohibiting the sale of these products, due to the environmental impacts of disposable vapes.
I share your concerns about disposable e-cigarettes being littered in the streets of our towns and countryside. I understand that around 1.3 million disposable vapes are thrown away every week in the UK. A significant amount of the disposable vapes thrown away each week are not recycled properly and are instead littered or discarded with residual waste.
All vapes, including disposable vapes, fall within scope of the UK’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations. I understand that importers and manufacturers of vapes must finance the cost of collection and the proper treatment of all equipment that is disposed of through local authority household waste sites and returned to retailers and internet sellers. Producers must be registered with the Environment Agency in England.
Retailers and internet sellers of vapes have obligations under the WEEE regulations to take back used vapes on supply of new vapes to their customers. They must also make available information to their customers about how to recycle vapes. Smaller retailers can opt out of the take-back obligations if they pay into a scheme that supports local authority electricals recycling. The Environment Agency and the Office for Product Safety and Standards have been working on a programme to improve compliance.
Finally, the WEEE regulations also set minimum recycling targets for waste electrical equipment. The Government’s consultation on these regulations will consider measures aimed to increase levels of collections of waste electricals, including vapes, to ensure that more of these products are properly recycled.
As set out above, I include the link to the current consultation here: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/creating-a-smokefree-generation-and-tackling-youth-vaping/creating-a-smokefree-generation-and-tackling-youth-vaping-your-views and would urge you to take part to share your views with the Department before it closes on the 6th December. The Department will then respond to the consultation and if you have further concerns at that time, please do come back to me.