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Disposable vape pens are non-rechargeable devices that typically come ready-filled with e-liquid (which may contain nicotine). A typical disposable vape pen, designed for single-use, contains plastic, copper, rubber and a lithium battery. Some parts, like the battery, can be widely recycled, whereas others, such as any rubber parts, may not be. Most disposable vapes are not designed to be taken apart easily.

Vapes are classed as waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). This means that consumers should dispose of them at a household recycling centre or at the shop where they bought the device. A BBC News article highlighted that many consumers, however, are unaware that disposable vapes can or should be recycled. Incorrect disposal of these items can potentially release, plastic, electronical and hazardous chemical waste into the environment. In particular, incorrect battery disposal can cause fire and health and safety risks at landfill sites. There is also concern about the use, and subsequent loss, of lithium contained in these products; a critical material which is in high demand.

The vape industry has called for the Government to provide more clarity around which regulations do and do not apply to disposable vapes. Some environmental organisations have campaigned for a ban on these products, whereas others have called for an end to vapes being marketed as disposable products and are seeking greater emphasis on, and support for, recycling. The Government has recently said that it will set out plans for reform of the existing WEEE regulations “in due course”.

This debate pack provides further information about the concerns about the environmental impact of disposable vapes, the regulations in place, along with various calls for change. A separate Commons Library briefing, The regulation of e-cigarettes, provides further information on the health and product safety aspects of vapes.

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