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Keep Scotland Beautiful leads call for all Scottish retailers to stop selling single-use vapes

This week we've joined forces with ASH Scotland, Marine Conservation Society and Laura Young and sent a joint letter to Scottish Ministers calling for a ban on the sale of single-use vapes.

We've also jointly issued a call to all Scottish retailers to follow in the footsteps of Waitrose and introduce a voluntary ban on the sales of single-use vapes.

Compared to re-useable vapes, which are rechargeable and refillable, disposable vapes come ready to go and only last for around 600 puffs, at which point they become obsolete and require complete replacement.

Consequently, single-use vapes are discarded and purchased repetitively, undermining the principles of a circular economy. When not recycled, the components of single-use vapes, end up in Scotland’s environment. These materials increase plastic pollution and toxic chemical leakage while microplastics have also been found in in the stomachs of various animals including seafood for human consumption.

Barry Fisher, Chief Executive of Keep Scotland Beautiful, said: “The announcement of a review into single-use vapes and their impact on our environment is both timely and necessary.

“However, the time to act is now. We know that 87% of Scottish people believe litter is an issue across the country. Scotland is currently facing a Litter Emergency and single-use vapes are an unwelcome addition.

"That’s why we are calling on all Scottish retailers to ban sales of the product.

“Cigarette litter in general makes up the biggest chunk of litter we record across Scotland, and we know that single-use vapes are increasing as a new, unnecessary litter type.

“We reiterate our call for action, up to and including a ban on single-use vapes. Whilst we wait for the review we’re calling on all Scottish retailers to follow Waitrose and stop the sale of single-use vapes in their premises.”

Jade Symonds, Trading Manager at Waitrose, said: “We are a retailer driven by doing the right thing. Not participating in the single-use vaping market is something we felt strongly about - due to the environmental impact and also the risk these products pose in appealing to younger, non-smokers."

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government’s review of the environmental harms of single-use e-cigarettes is welcome but retailers should take responsibility voluntarily and show community spirt by removing disposable vaping products from their shelves.

“The marketing and widespread availability of these cheap, sweet flavoured and brightly coloured vapes in shops across our communities is driving a huge increase in youth experimentation with vaping.  

“Nicotine is highly addictive and many disposable vapes include toxic chemicals that have not been safety tested for inhalation and could seriously damage health over time – this is especially worrying for young people whose lungs are still growing.”

Elliott Welch, Policy Volunteer for the Marine Conservation Society, said: "The shift from reusable vapes to disposable versions is worrying for marine life, as well as human health. Disposable vapes are not being recycled as they should under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations (WEEE), and are instead being littered on streets and beaches, finding their way into the sea and polluting our marine environment.

“Legislative action must be taken to ban the manufacture and sale of disposable vapes. Anything less would go against the Scottish Government’s plans to transition to a circular economy.

“Action can also be taken by individuals and businesses. If you use a vaping product, switch to a reusable option and always ensure you dispose of vaping products correctly through takeback schemes or designated WEEE recycling points. Businesses can take a lead and remove disposable vapes from their shelves as well as raising awareness of the available take back schemes to help increase recycling rates of vaping products.”

Laura Young, campaigner and PhD researcher, said: “Single-use and disposable electronic devices have no place in a world striving for a circular economy and net zero emissions.

“We must strive for better, encouraging where reusable initiatives in every industry, and have the health of people and planet front and foremost at all times.

“Disposable vapes must be removed from market, for both public health and environmental reasons, and until this happens, we will continue to see non-compliant brands and retailers, litter on our streets, waste on an enormous scale, and risks to our waste industries.”

To get involved in collecting data on single-use vapes as litter check out our litter surveys that you can complete as part of our annual Spring Clean which takes place from 17 March until 17 April.

16 February 2023

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