Politics

Climate activist calls for ban on disposable vapes after discovering one every minute in local park

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A Scottish-based climate activist who found more than 50 disposable vapes in a one-hour walk around Dundee is calling for a government ban on the products – as they create “significant environmental issues”.

Laura Young, a 26-year-old campaigner better known online as “Less Waste Laura”, travelled four miles across the city with her dog Cooper on the search for disposable vapes, and it wasn’t long before she came across some scattered on the floor.

“It’s been seven minutes, and I’ve found seven, so… not looking good,” she said in a video posted last week.

At the end of the walk, she emptied a bag of the vapes into a tub and after counting them, revealed 55 disposable vapes had been collected in total.

“Just shows that these are a massive problem and we need to deal with them by banning disposable vapes now,” she concluded.

And the campaign is steadily gaining traction, with many expressing their support for Laura’s movement on Twitter.

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“Absolutely loving this single-handed campaign against ‘disposable’ vapes. I see them everywhere but only learnt today that ‘disposable’ doesn’t mean they can be thrown in the bin; these have to be sent to specialised recycling for electrical waste,” wrote one.

Environmental writer Lucy Siegle commented: “Each vape waste has a little lithium iron battery in. Vapes are the fastest growing segment of waste electronics and there’s absolutely no plan on what to do with them/collection/disposal.

“Incredible these can just be shovelled onto the market with ZERO PLAN!”

“More avoidable plastic pollution that affects all of the UK,” said a third.

According to the not-for-profit Material Focus, 1.3 million single-use vapes are thrown away each week, which translates to 22 football pitches a year. More than 50 per cent of single-use vapes are thrown away.

A press release from the organisation reads: “Vapes contain a range of materials which when thrown away the materials contained inside them are lost forever. Although vapes are covered in plastic, the lithium inside the battery forms a key material hidden inside the vapes.

“Each single-use vapes contains on average 0.15g of lithium and with over 1.3 million single-use vapes thrown away every week, this accumulates to 10 tonnes of lithium a year, equivalent to the lithium in batteries inside 1,200 electric vehicles.”

Scott Butler, Material Focus’s executive director, added that throwing away the single-use vapes means people are “throwing away some of the most precious materials on our planet”.

He said: “A key part of the problem is that vapes are advertised as disposable. Producers and retailers need to work together to ensure that they should make people aware that vapes should never be binned and instead be recycled.

“Recycling needs to be made easier and manufacturers and retailers can become part of the solution by adding collection points in-store.”

Back in October, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said the government would set out plans for reforming the existing regulations on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment regulations “in due course”.

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