Environmental crisis in the UK vaping industry: a ticking time bomb

Environmental crisis in the UK vaping industry: a ticking time bomb

In the United Kingdom, an alarming situation regarding the recycling of vaping products is highlighted by Material Focus, a non-profit organization, revealing the lack of initiative on the part of manufacturers and retailers in managing e-waste from of these products. According to this study, an overwhelming majority, or 90% of players in the sector, do not fulfill their recycling obligations, particularly for single-use electronic cigarettes, posing a considerable environmental risk.

British legislation in force since 2021 requires companies producing electrical and electronic equipment to register with the competent authorities, declare their sales and contribute financially to the recycling of their products. However, Material Focus highlights a poor application of these regulations, with only 11% of the stores visited offering adequate recycling solutions to their customers.

The environmental impact of this negligence is significant, given that the UK is a significant market for single-use vapes, accounting for an annual sale of 360 million units. This quantity represents a significant consumption of lithium, necessary for the manufacture of the batteries of these devices, equivalent to that of more than 6 electric vehicles. The cost associated with recycling these products is estimated at £700 million annually.

Scott Butler, executive director of Material Focus, expresses an urgency to establish an efficient and accessible recycling system for these devices, in anticipation of the impending ban on puffs in 2025. He highlights the particular challenges associated with recycling e- cigarettes, such as manual disassembly required due to the risks of flammable batteries and nicotine liquid.

This revelation comes despite the fact that the companies involved are generally members of recognized professional associations and that they declare their products to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Material Focus' publication of an information document on environmental responsibilities in the vaping sector was apparently not enough to catalyze the expected change, despite a significant increase in sales and profits in the industry.

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About the Author

CEO of Vapelier OLF but also editor for Vapoteurs.net, it is with pleasure that I leave my pen to share with you the news of the vape.