Londoners to get free vape for returning 10 in bid to address environmental impact of waste

The Advertising Standards Authority has banned two ads promoting vapes (Nicholas T Ansell/PA) (PA Wire)
The Advertising Standards Authority has banned two ads promoting vapes (Nicholas T Ansell/PA) (PA Wire)

Londoners will be handed free vapes if they recycle their old devices amid growing concerns about the number of fires at recycling plants.

Consumers will get one free vape for every 10 they return under the initiative, due to start in London, Birmingham and Manchester at the end of May ahead of a nationwide rollout later in the year.

It is hoped the incentive will help address the concerns surrounding the sticks being thrown away in general waste and the environmental impact of the lithium-ion batteries ending up in landfill.

The disposable devices have been blamed for a growing rise in fires at recycling plants over the last year.

Some 1.3 million single-use vapes are thrown away every week, according to research commissioned by environmental campaign group Material Focus.

It means recycling firms are now dealing with so many that they are struggling to insure facilities and have even turned to artificial intelligence and thermal imaging cameras to detect vape batteries.

Tory MP Andrew Lewer, Vice Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Vaping, said: “Whilst disposables are undoubtedly supporting people in their smoking cessation journey, there are growing concerns from many about the environmental impact they are having, with mountains of lithium and plastic being sent to landfill each year.”

Labour MP Mary Glindon added: “Vaping has been a huge public health success here in the UK, helping millions of smokers to quit the habit and move to a proven less-harmful alternative.

“It is encouraging to see new vape recycling schemes being launched, and I hope that vapers will explore how to properly dispose of their devices.”

The recycling scheme is being facilitated by FEELM, which makes ceramic coils used in many vape brands, and its parent company SMOORE Technology .

Royal Mail will deliver the devices from consumers to FEELM, before they are sent to the Waste Experts recycling centre.

Ruiqi Wang, from SMOORE Technology, said: “This is the first industrial whole chain vape recycling scheme, including manufacturers, brands, delivery companies, waste management companies, retailers, and ultimately the consumers.

“As a technology brand that supplies some of the UK’s largest vaping companies, FEELM felt we had a responsibility to help our clients and their customers do more to address the growing concerns about the improper disposal of used vapes.”