Scotland has proposed a ban on disposable vapes over environmental ‘threat’

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf announced the measure as he delivered his Programme for Government. The Programme sets out the nation’s policy priorities for the coming year, which includes the environment alongside other areas such as childcare, healthcare and economic growth.

Disposable vapes, Yousaf said, are “a threat to both public health and the environment”.

They are hard to recycle as they contain multiple different kinds of plastics, plus an internal battery. The Scottish Government was told that around 13 million disposable vapes were incorrectly disposed of within the past year, including 2.6 million that were littered.

“On the environment, the evidence is undeniable – from litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities, there are issues which demand action,” Yousaf said.

He confirmed that a consultation will be held on a potential ban in early 2024. Before then, retailers, manufacturers and other stakeholders will be contacted and asked to provide their thoughts, including any potential alternative solutions.

Scotland’s Circular Economy Minister Lorna Slater and Public Health Minister Jenni Minto will also meet with their counterparts in Westminster, Wales and Northern Ireland to push for collaborative action on disposable vapes. Yousaf emphasised that “this is not just an issue for Scotland”.

Scottish newspaper The Lancet last year called disposable vapes “a new threat” to the environment due to littering.

Westminster’s approach

While some recycling capacity does exist in the UK, the market for vapes is booming and MPs are being called upon to intervene – potentially with bans – to prevent pollution. Refillable vapes are touted as an alternative to ensure that the Government still meets its targets to reduce tobacco use.

The UK Government confirmed earlier this year that Ministers will put forward measures for reforming the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations before the year is out. Options to tackle waste from disposable vapes specifically will be included. Bans have not yet been floated.

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