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Plans unveiled to make vape suppliers finance waste management costs

December 28, 2023

Photo: iStock

New UK-wide plans announced today (28 December) will require suppliers of vapes properly finance the cost of their separate collection and treatment when the items become waste.

With nearly 5 million vapes being thrown away every week, industry estimates the potential yearly cost of collecting and recycling vapes, which have been incorrectly disposed of, at £200 million.

The measure is part of the government proposals unveiled today to spark greater reuse and recycling of electrical goods.

The range of measures proposed within the joint consultation by the UK, Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland Executive for introduction from 2026, include:

  • UK-wide collections of waste electricals directly from households – saving the public from having to trek to distant electrical disposal points. The collections would be financed by producers of electrical items, not the taxpayer, and not necessarily require any further bins.
  • Large retailers rolling out collection drop points for electrical items in-store, free of charge, without the need to buy a replacement product.
  • Retailers and online sellers taking on responsibility for collecting unwanted or broken large electrical items such as fridges or cookers when delivering a replacement.

The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) said the proposals will mean consumers will be able to recycle their goods during their weekly shop or without even leaving the house.

“We all have a drawer of old tech somewhere that we don’t know what to do with and our proposals will ensure these gadgets are easy to dispose of without the need for a trip to your local tip,” recycling minister Robbie Moore said.

“Our plans will also drive the move to a more circular economy and create new jobs by making all recycling simpler.”

Statistics shared by the Defra show an estimated 155,000 tonnes of smaller household electricals such as cables, toasters, kettles and power tools are wrongly thrown in the bin each year. UK homes are thought to hoard a further 527 million unwanted electrical items containing valuable materials such as gold, silver and platinum.

The waste generated during the festive period demonstrates the scale of the problem: 500 tonnes of Christmas lights are discarded every year in the UK.

The Defra said it will work closely with manufacturers, major retailers and small and medium enterprises throughout the 10-week consultation period to ensure the most efficient and accessible options become a reality.

Elsewhere, the consultation proposes extending obligations to contribute to the collection of waste electricals and the financing of their recycling and preparation for reuse to online marketplaces such as Amazon.