OPINION: Recycling minister backs plans to ban disposable vapes

Robbie Moore MP, Defra’s parliamentary under secretary of state with responsibility for waste, has shared his thoughts with letsrecycle.com on the government’s plans to ban the sale of disposable vapes.

Around 5 million single-use vapes are thrown away every week, according to Material Focus

In an announcement over the weekend, 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”.

Mr Moore exclusively shares his thoughts with letsrecycle.com below.

OPINION: I know that people are concerned by the rising number of children and teenagers vaping in this country, as well as the environmental impact from disposable vapes. As the Minister for Resources and Waste, I’m particularly shocked by the astonishing scale of the waste these products create.

Nearly 5 million disposable vapes are now thrown away every week, equivalent to eight per second. This is almost four times higher even than last year.

Robbie Moore MP now has responsibility for resources and waste

It feels almost impossible to walk down any high street without seeing a garishly coloured vape chucked carelessly into the gutter. These toxic single-use vapes can cause major harm to the environment if littered.

People should dispose of their single-use vapes at specific collection points in shops when buying a replacement or at local household recycling centres. But we know too often this does not happen.

The number of battery-related waste fires continues to rise, some of which are believed to have been sparked by the batteries contained in vapes that have been thrown away instead of recycled.

And industry estimates the potential yearly cost of collecting and recycling vapes which have been incorrectly disposed of at £200 million. Vape producers, importers and retailers are not currently funding this.

We’re also losing crucial resources if these devices aren’t properly recycled; binned vapes contain enough valuable and critical materials like lithium and copper to power the equivalent of nearly 5,000 electric vehicles.


That’s why I know readers will be delighted and reassured to hear the Government has delivered its response to the public consultation which sought views on proposals to crack down on youth vaping, as part of the Prime Minister’s plans to build a better and brighter future for our children.

Selling vapes to children is already illegal but too often they are targeted at them regardless, with the promotion of cheap, colourful and sweet flavours commonplace.

As such, we are bringing forward a ban on the sale and supply of disposable vapes, following widespread support for the proposal in our consultation. We will bring forward legislation at the earliest opportunity to bring the ban into force, while allowing at least six months for businesses to adapt.

The Government knows vaping is rightly used by adults as a tool to quit smoking, but the health advice is clear. If you don’t smoke, don’t vape – and children should never vape.

Not only will the Prime Minister’s historic proposals crack down on the health issues associated with disposable vapes, helping to create the first smoke-free generation, but they will be of huge benefit to the environment by tackling a particularly ugly and problematic waste stream.

To find out more about vapes, visit the WEEE conference taking place on 21 March 2024. To find out more click here.

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