As vaping becomes increasingly popular, particularly among London’s youth, the question of how to responsibly dispose of disposable e liquid and vapes becomes more and more critical. This article provides a comprehensive guide on where and how to dispose of disposable vapes in London, the environmental implications of incorrect disposal, and the regulations surrounding e-cigarette use and disposal.
Local Waste Collection Services in London
Most borough councils in London offer waste collection services that accept electronic waste, including disposable vapes. These services provide an accessible and convenient option for Londoners looking to dispose of their own electrical waste and used vapes responsibly. However, it’s important to check with your local borough council as services may vary across London.
Specialised E-Waste Recycling Centres in London
For a more specialised approach to general waste and recycling facilities, you can find a local recycling centre in London are equipped to handle electronic waste, including e-cigarettes. These centres have the necessary facilities to safely dispose of and recycle electronic waste, ensuring that harmful substances are properly managed and valuable resources are recovered.
Retailer Take-Back Programs in London
Some vape shops and online retailers in London offer take-back programs for used disposable vapes. These programs allow customers to return their used vapes to the place of purchase for proper disposal. This not only makes the disposal process recycle vapes easier for consumers but also places responsibility on vape kits and retailers to manage the waste from the products they sell.
The Importance of Proper Disposal
With the boom in sales of disposable vapes, proper disposal has become increasingly important. Improper disposal can lead to valuable resources like lithium ending up in landfill or waste incinerators. By utilising local waste collection services, local recycling centres, and retailer take-back programs, Londoners can help to recycle disposable vapes.
The Value of Lithium in Disposable Vapes
Lithium: A Valuable Resource
Lithium, a metal integral to the high-tech economy, is found in disposable vapes. It’s a valuable resource that’s essential for the production of batteries for laptops, mobile phones, and electric cars.
Waste of Lithium in Disposable Vapes
According to a joint investigation by Sky News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, users in the UK, including London, are discarding around two disposable vapes with lithium batteries every second. This equates to around 10 tonnes of lithium being sent to landfill or waste incinerators each year – enough of the metal to make batteries for 1,200 electric cars.
The Need for Recycling
Given the value of lithium and its importance in transitioning away from fossil fuels, it’s crucial that this resource is not wasted. Mark Miodownik, professor of materials and society at University College London, emphasises that we can’t afford to throw these materials away, especially in a climate emergency.
The Popularity of Disposable Vapes and Recycling Challenges in London
Sales Boom of Disposable Vapes
Disposable vapes, available in a wide range of colours and flavours, are the fastest-growing alternative to smoking in London. They have overtaken other types of refillable and reusable vapes for the first time this year.
Recycling Habits of Vape Users
Research by Opinium for Material Focus, a non-profit recycling organisation, found that 18% of 4,000 people surveyed had bought a vape in the previous year. Of those, 7% said they had bought a disposable device. This suggests around 168 million disposable vapes are being bought annually in the UK, including London. However, just over half of users reported throwing their vapes in the bin when it runs out, rather than putting them in a waste electricals recycling bin, or returning them to the retailer.
The Role of Producers and Consumers
Scott Butler, executive director of recycling centre Material Focus, highlights the need for both producers and consumers to be more mindful. Producers should manufacture products with recycling in mind, and consumers should make more conscious decisions about the products they buy. He also emphasises the need for recycling to be made significantly easier for people.
Regulations and Compliance
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations
Under UK law, disposable vapes are classed as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Producers or importers of products classed as WEEE have certain responsibilities under the regulations to ensure they are either disposed or recycled, including placing themselves on a register.
Compliance with WEEE Regulations
The investigation by Sky News and the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found no evidence of the manufacturer or importer of the country’s two leading disposable vape brands, Elf Bar and Geek Bar, being on the WEEE register. The Environment Agency, responsible for enforcing the WEEE regulations, stated that businesses failing to comply with these regulations will be subject to an appropriate enforcement response.
The Rising Trend of Vaping Among Young People in London
According to a report by ASH, the proportion of children experimenting with vaping in the UK grew by 50% from 2022 to 2023. This rise in experimentation is mirrored by a boom in sales of disposable vapes, leading to millions of these devices ending up in landfill.
Promotion and Awareness
The report also indicates a significant increase in children’s awareness of vape promotion, and vape recycling, particularly in shops and online. The wide range of colours and flavours available in disposable vapes, coupled with their hassle-free nature, has made them the fastest-growing alternative to smoking in London, overtaking other types of refillable and reusable vapes for the first time this year.
Reasons for Vaping Among Young People
The majority of never-smokers say they vape ‘just to give it a try’. This curiosity, combined with the convenience of disposable vapes, contributes to the high rate of experimentation among young people.
Around one in five ever and never smokers say ‘other people do it so I join in’. This peer influence is a significant factor in the rising trend of vaping among young people.
21% of ever smokers say they vape because they ‘like the flavours’. The wide variety of flavours offered by disposable vapes is a key attraction for young users.
The Popularity of Disposable Vapes
Disposable vapes are popular due to their convenience and ease of use. They are pen-sized devices that are hassle-free and highly addictive, making them a popular choice among young people.
Popularity Among Young People
In 2023, 69% of young vapers reported that the most frequently used device was a disposable vape. Market research by Opinium for Material Focus, a non-profit recycling organisation, found that 18% of 4,000 people surveyed had bought a used vape kit in the previous year. Of those, 7% said they had bought a disposable device. This suggests around 168 million disposable vapes are being bought annually in the UK, including London.
Disposal of Disposable Vapes
Despite their popularity, the disposal of disposable vapes presents a significant environmental challenge. Just over half of users reported throwing their battery in vapes in the bin when it runs out, rather than putting them in a waste electricals recycling bin, or returning them to the retailer. This improper disposal leads to valuable resources like lithium ending up in landfill or waste incinerators.
As the popularity of vaping, particularly among young people, continues to rise in London, it’s crucial to understand the importance of proper disposal of disposable vapes. Not only does correct disposal protect the environment, but it also complies with UK regulations surrounding e-cigarette use and disposal.