The public health argument has been used to justify the measure, but the environmental argument is even more compelling; single-use vapes are an environmental catastrophe.
Discarded disposable vapes have become a feature of almost every street in the country. According to Material Focus, in 2023 5 million are thrown away each week in the UK, each containing a combustible lithium ion battery; a fourfold increase compared to 2022. This is the equivalent to the amount of lithium required for the batteries of 5,000 electric vehicles. To waste a material so valuable in facilitating the transition to net zero on something as undeserving as a single use vape is madness. This is before we consider the linear nature of the plastic casings, which embody the take-make-use-lose industrial model.
Even if you wanted to recycle them, it is not particularly easy to do so with few recycling facilities available.
- The push for an international treaty on plastic pollution
- The Big Plastic Count 2024: UK gears up for second national plastic-waste survey
- Who should take responsibility for tackling climate change?
- Takeaways from the Conservative Party Conference
Vapes are a curious phenomenon. Many of the people who regularly use them concede that they are damaging our society, but continue to use them nonetheless. Marketed like sweets, the bright colours and array of flavours make them particularly appealing to children. Reducing their use and environmental impact can only be done effectively through government legislation. Despite being slow to move on the issue in comparison with many other countries, Sunak deserves credit for beginning the process of banning their sale. The ban is expected to come into force in early 2025.