Concerns over disposable vapes

CONCERNS have been raised over the prevalence of disposable vapes by the leader of Inverclyde Council.

Councillor Stephen McCabe expressed his worries about the impact of single-use nicotine vaping products on the environment at a meeting of the council on Thursday 20 April 2023.

Vapes, also known as e-cigarettes or e-cigs, contain nicotine and are alternatives to cigarettes.

They are powered by small batteries containing materials that can be hazardous if not disposed of correctly.

It is estimated that 1.3 million vapes are littered and binned each week. 

The local authority leader made a request for the director of environment and regeneration to write to the Scottish Government’s minister for green skills, circular economy, and biodiversity, Lorna Slater, on behalf of the council outlining concerns about the impact of vaping devices.

The request was seconded by depute council leader, Councillor Natasha McGuire.

An additional proposal from Councillor Graeme Brooks was also put forward calling for actions to mitigate the harmful effects of vapes to be introduced across the United Kingdom as soon as practicable and that the minister leads the negotiations with the other devolved administrations and the UK Government.

Both requests were unanimously agreed at the meeting.

Councillor McCabe said: “The prevalence of vapes in recent times is of great concern, especially when we see huge volumes each week being thrown in the bin or, even worse, mindlessly discarded on our streets, parks, beaches and beauty spots.

“While we don’t know the full extent of the potential harm these e-cigs are doing to people’s health, we do know the massive, negative impact they are having on our environment.

“These devices contain precious materials that could not only be recycled but, if not disposed of properly, can cause dangerous chemicals to leach into our countryside and waters causing harm to nature.”

Councillor Brooks said: “Now is the time to act on what is becoming a fast-growing epidemic and I’m pleased fellow councillors recognise the urgent need for action and supported the request to appeal directly to the minister about this issue.

“This is a welcome move by the council to raise awareness of the issues with vapes on public health and the environment and to lead the way in calling for immediate interventions by all governments of the United Kingdom to tackle this problem.”

The request was on the back of a letter from climate activist Laura Young to all Inverclyde councillors expressing both the environmental and public health concerns associated with vaping.

The full text of the request agreed by councillors is as follows:

Inverclyde Council notes with concern the serious and damaging environmental impacts of disposable vapes and recognises an increase in these electronic devices being discarded in communities and public spaces across the Inverclyde Council area.

Research by Material Focus, an independent not-for-profit organisation, identified in 2022 that at least 1.3million so called ‘disposable’ vapes are littered and binned each week.

It is noted that vapes contain a range of precious materials, including lithium and copper, which can be collected if recycled in a safe and appropriate manner.

Inverclyde Council further anticipates the publication of the Scottish Government’s urgent review into the environmental impact of disposable vapes, currently being undertaken by Zero Waste Scotland.

In light of the serious nature of these concerns, the council instructs the Director of Environment & Regeneration to write on behalf of Inverclyde Council to Lorna Slater, Scottish Government Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity, to convey Inverclyde Council’s view that actions to mitigate their harmful effects, be introduced across the UK as soon as practicable and that the minister leads the negotiations with the other devolved administrations and the UK Government.

The full report and agenda from the council meeting is available by clicking on the link in the Related Links section of this page and the meeting is available to watch on the council’s YouTube channel or via the link in the Other Websites section of this page.