Thursday, May 23, 2024

500 Million Disposable E-Cigarettes Discarded in the UK


According to a report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on September 8th, research by the UK recycling organization Material Focus has found that five million disposable e-cigarettes are discarded in the country every week, which is four times higher than last year.

Batteries for 5000 Electric Vehicles

According to a recent survey conducted by Yougov, Material Focus, a non-profit organization committed to improving recycling rates, has calculated that approximately 30 million e-cigarettes are purchased each month by adults in the UK. The study also reveals that only 17% of e-cigarette users dispose of their e-cigarettes correctly by recycling them.

Disposable e-cigarettes contain valuable materials such as copper wires and lithium batteries. According to Material Focus, all the disposable e-cigarettes discarded within a year contain enough lithium batteries to power 5000 electric cars.

According to the law, every place that sells e-cigarettes should be equipped to handle them, but this infrastructure comes with costs and many places do not provide it.

The e-cigarette industry is stating that it is making efforts to improve recycling rates, as the potential annual cost of recycling all these e-cigarettes would amount to £200 million. This cost will be borne by the manufacturers, importers, or retailers.

Scott Butler, the Executive Director of Material Focus, stated,”The number of e-cigarettes disposed of far exceeds the amount being recycled, highlighting a significant insufficiency in current recycling facilities. Experts argue that the process of recycling e-cigarettes should be as easily accessible as purchasing them.”

E-cigarettes, when mixed with other household waste, have the potential to cause fires in garbage trucks and waste treatment facilities. Veolia, a waste management company, has reported that lithium batteries, including e-cigarettes, are responsible for an average of one fire incident per day.

Reactions from All Parties

The spokesperson for ELFBAR, the most popular disposable e-cigarette brand in the UK, expressed their full commitment to improving recycling rates. They are diligently working on setting up thousands of recycling points in retail stores to enhance the recyclability of their products.

John Dunne, General Secretary of the UK E-Cigarette Industry Association, has noted the rapid growth of the industry, making it challenging to keep pace. However, he highlights that numerous independent e-cigarette stores have now established recycling facilities.

A spokesperson of the British government has stated,”The government is greatly concerned about the environmental impact of disposable e-cigarettes and will soon issue a response calling for evidence on e-cigarettes.”

The Scottish government is currently deliberating a potential ban on the use of disposable e-cigarettes. Earlier in July, both the parliaments of England and Wales called for a ban due to concerns over potential waste management issues.


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