Disposable Vapes and Wildlife: January 2024

Dear Constituent,

Thank you for contacting me about vaping and the environment. I regret that I will not be able to attend the briefing event on the 6th February due to prior diary commitments, however, I have laid out my thoughts on the matter below for your convenience.

I share your concerns about disposable e-cigarettes being littered in the streets of our towns and countryside. The scale of the waste of disposable vapes in the UK is shocking, with around five million disposable vapes thrown away every week. Many of the disposable vapes thrown away each week are not recycled properly and are instead littered or discarded with residual waste.

The Government recently carried out a public consultation on the Prime Minister’s proposals to create the first smokefree generation and crack down on cheap and accessible disposable vapes. The consultation included proposals to restrict child-friendly flavours and bright coloured packaging. These proposals will be of major benefit to the environment by tackling a particularly problematic waste stream. The consultation has now closed and I look forward to reading the Government's response in due course.

Regarding the waste of vapes, I am aware that retailers that sell over £100,000 of electrical equipment per year are obliged to provide in-store takeback of electrical items, including vapes, under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations. Smaller businesses can choose to contribute funds to the distributor takeback scheme instead to ensure vapes are recycled correctly.

Under these regulations, producers of electrical and electronic equipment, including vapes, are required to take financial responsibility for the collection, and proper treatment the products that they place on the market when those products become waste at household waste recycling centres or are returned to retailers. Consumers that wish to dispose of their old vapes can take them to their local authority household waste recycling centre. I am informed that all vapes that are deposited at household waste and recycling centres will be collected and treated.

Finally, while I understand that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs does not currently hold information on the potential risks to animals from exposure to disposable vapes, I know that it has commissioned research which will better understand both the market for, and impacts of, disposable vapes and associated cost inputs. I will continue to follow this issue closely.

Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.