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Should Disposables Be Banned From Sale in the UK

Disposable Vape Kits Law

We have all read the news articles that some big retailers have withdrawn disposable vape kits from their stores, due to them not meeting the UK’s legal juice capacity limits. Should the UK vape market remove disposable vapes altogether? Should the UK MHRA consider the possible reasons for a ban on disposables in the near future?

What Is MHRA’s Current Requirements On Disposables?

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) currently prescribe the following requirements for all vape products:

  • standards for the safety and quality of all e-cigarettes and e-liquids. This includes disposable vape kits.
  • That information is provided to consumers so that they can make informed choices.
  • Protection from children starting to use vape products.

As you can see, there are currently no minimum environmental requirements for manufacturers or importers of electronic cigarettes.

Environmental Impact of Disposables

We have posted a debate previously about how damaging disposable kits are for the environment we live in. Our world’s resources are not infinite. We are seeing the impact of the detrimental impact of various human activities in the real world today. It is no longer only scientific forecasts but a reality. Forecasts are pretty horrific too.

This scientific research by Kaiho (2022) estimates that even if we cut down on pollution, deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and prevent a nuclear war, there will still be a 10-15% extinction of animal species in the next 40 years. That is, 15% of animal species may never live again within most of our lifetimes. If we continue as we are, there could be a 50% loss of species within most of our lifetimes. We each play a role in protecting our world for our own futures. Future generations and also the animals and plant species currently living in our world with us depend on our actions.

Studies like the above make it clear that we have a personal duty to reduce our impact on the environment. The more people who reduce our impact on the environment, the more change we can make for the better. One easy way to do this is to switch to refillable electronic cigarettes. Here is another post detailing the cost savings you could make by switching away from disposables. It cannot be stressed enough that the impact vaping has on our world can be reduced by switching to reusables.

Disposable Vapes and Fire Risk

Disposable e-cigs are a fire risk when put in recycling containers or in general waste bins. Damaged batteries can cause a fire in the waste removal lorries or at the final refuse sites. The Nottinghamshire Fire Services recommend discontinuing the use of damaged vape devices. Disused batteries should be disposed of under the recyling centre’s instructions, so they do not cause a fire hazard at the waste site. Surrounding land and water networks can also be leeched into by batteries put into landfill. This should be avoided as it can have a big impact on the local environment. The best way to avoid this is to reduce the number of batteries requiring disposal, by using a rechargeable kit.

Money Matters

Some consumers are on tight budgets. Without clear advertising, they may be under the impression that a single disposable vape (£6) is the equivalent of a 10ml bottle of e-liquid (£3.99). They don’t have to fund the up-front cost of vape (starting from £11.99). In fact, as discussed in our post about the cost savings of using a rechargeable kit, there is only 2ml of juice in a disposable vape, which means you would have to buy 5 disposables (£30) to fund the equivalent of a 10ml bottle of e-juice (£3.99). The rechargeable vapes can be used again and again and again, over many months and sometimes years.

What Is Holding Disposable Vapers Back

We have a good relationship with other UK vape businesses, and it is not only Vapour Days UK that wants the environmental impact of disposable kits reduced. When we discuss the differences between reusables and disposables to shoppers, there has been a positive reaction to switching. But not all shoppers have time to educate themselves about the products they are buying. This is where it may take a while longer for people to willingly shift to reusables. Before disposables become illegal or significantly change from their current non-recyclable form (if they ever do), we hope we can open as many vapers’ eyes to the impact they are having on our environment.

What Alternatives Are There to Disposable Devices

If the disposable market is here to stay, we hope that manufacturers will become mindful of the need to reduce the impact disposable batteries are having. There are new technologies that some manufacturers could trial, to offer a more sustainable and environmentally friendly equivalent. One example could be using sodium-ion batteries rather than lithium batteries.

There are already some companies trying to lessen the impact of disposables, whilst still offering a very similar product. Drip Hacks Chubbi Chodez kits are the same as disposables except you can recharge the battery before throwing it away. You can also refill the pods with e-juices. This lessens the impact on the environment as well as saves money with the low price of e-juice bottles.

Pretty much everywhere sells disposable vapes now. In individual vape shops, garages, supermarkets and online vape chains. All of these businesses selling disposable kits should strive to educate and promote rechargeable pod-styled vapes rather than disposables. Many established and passionate vape businesses are aiming to debate these urgent issues. However, many retailers whose market is not primarily vape products, such as supermarket chains, may prefer to sell disposables because they require no training for the staff selling them or the customers buying them.

Each day, disposables continue to be sold in vast volumes across the UK. It may be time for the regulator to step in and encourage manufacturers to improve the environmental impact of these products. Either that or ban disposable vapes altogether.

Is An Environmental Regulator A Possibility

On a separate point, not relating just to vape matters, but have you felt that the general quality of products has deteriorated since you were younger?

Children’s toys seem to fall apart in a few days if you’re lucky. Tool kits seem to snap when you simply screw something together. Socks seem to get holes with only a few wears. And shoes literally fall apart at the seams before you even wore them outdoors. Perhaps we are shopping in the wrong places, or perhaps the manufacturers are making poorer-quality items in the hope we buy more and more of them.

If that is the case, then surely there needs to be some regulatory oversight. An environmental product regulator could ensure higher-quality and more sustainable products are available across every sector of UK retail. The more products are disposed of within a very short period of time, the greater the impact on our environment. This is in terms of transporting new products to the UK, as well as disposing of unwanted but barely used products. This is no good to our planet, and also no good to our finances or mental health dealing with searching for better products.

Banning of Disposables

It is not only vape shops and vapers who are wishing disposables never came on the scene due to the impact on our environment. Science is also urging the MHRA to consider protecting our environment. Scientists want the MHRA to consider the environmental impacts of vape products, not just the human impacts. See here a strong case for Government intervention published in The Lancet journal by Pourchez (2022).

Let’s hope our government can focus on these matters, and help vapers become more environmentally conscious.

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