Data: Over 90% of UK retailers fail to meet vape recycling rules

A quarter of a billion disposable vapes could get thrown away before a ban on single-use vapes comes in next year, as over 90% of retailers in the UK are failing to meet eco-rules, according to research.

Carried out by not-for-profit organisation Material Focus, the data reveals that more than nine out of 10 vape producers and retailers seemed not to provide or pay for the return and recycling of single-use e-cigarettes.

Around 360 million single-use electronic cigarettes are sold in the UK each year and Material Focus dubbed its latest research as “shocking”.

The research has been conducted ahead of the impending UK ban on single-use vapes which has been celebrated by environmentalists and is due to be implemented in 2025.

The research pinpointed high-streets brands and convenience stores as among the worst culprits, providing “very little or zero recycling drop-off points”.

It found that recycling drop off points were available in just 33% of 57 specialist retailers, and that overall there had been no improvement in complying with rules since 2023.

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Scott Butler, executive director, 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.

“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.”

Material Focus released a report last year which also identified that 90% of electronic cigarette manufacturers were not meeting their environmental obligations.

In October last year, the  UK Vaping Industry Association (VIA) launched a new web-based information hub, as well as a special Sustainable Vaping Week campaign during October.

Climate crisisMarketingNature and the environmentNet zeroNewsRetailSupply Chain

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