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Keep Beaches and Waterways Free of Vape Waste

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13 June 2024

Keep Beaches and Waterways Free of Vape Waste While Soaking up the Sunshine this Summer

 Latest research shows one in three adults don’t know how to properly dispose of vapes

The European Recycling Platform (ERP), Ireland’s only pan-European compliance scheme for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and Waste Batteries and Clean Coasts called on the public to keep Irish beaches and waterways free of vape waste. IBAL’s 2023 survey of coasts and inland waterways highlighted that disposable vapes were noted as a litter type for the first time. Vape waste was encountered in one out of seven visits, making them even more prevalent on beaches than on streets.

Now with the arrival of summer, ERP Ireland is calling on those enjoying Ireland’s waterways and coasts to dispose of vapes correctly by bringing them to any retail outlet that sells vapes when purchasing a new one or disposing of them in the WEEE/Battery area at Civic Amenity Sites.  ERP Ireland also offers free recycling of these devices through its battery collection network. 

ERP Ireland commissioned a nationally representative survey, carried out by Coyne Research amongst 1,000 adults aged 18+ years, which revealed that one in three adults in Ireland are unaware of where to dispose of vapes. While this figure represents an improvement on last year’s results (two in three adults were unaware of where to dispose of vapes), it shows public awareness is growing of the need to recycle vape products.

The study revealed that those who vape, are much more likely to be aware that they contain batteries at 92%. There was also a 15% increase in the number of vapers who know vapes can be disposed of at a recycling centre. Despite this, one in three current vapers incorrectly believe that vapes can be disposed of in the general refuse bin and one in five stated they would dispose of vapes in their domestic recycling bin.

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform and at the Department of Environment, Climate and Communications, Ossian Smyth, TD said: “I am delighted that ERP and Clean Coasts are tackling the very prevalent issue of vape litter ahead of the summer months. It is clear that discarded vapes have been increasingly present in our communities and there is lack of awareness among the public on proper vape disposal. Correctly recycling vapes can help to move us closer towards a circular economy that reduces Ireland’s carbon impact and protects our natural resources and environment.”

Sinead McCoy, Development Director, An Taisce speaking of the Clean Coasts programme support of this campaign said: “Our mission at Clean Coasts is to engage communities in protecting and preserving our beautiful coastlines. Vape waste has become a significant litter issue on our beaches, affecting both the environment and marine life. We are thrilled to partner with ERP Ireland to raise awareness and promote proper disposal methods for vapes. By working together, we can help ensure that our beaches remain clean and safe for everyone to enjoy. We urge the public to take responsibility and recycle vapes properly, contributing to a healthier and more sustainable environment.”

James Burgess, Country General Manager, ERP Ireland said: “ERP is encouraging positive change in vape recycling behaviour, especially during the coming summer months. The research has shown that the majority of vapers are aware that vapes contain batteries, but that knowledge is not yet translating into a positive recycling action. We are urging current vapers or those who are visiting or cleaning beaches  to dispose of vapes correctly.  Vape products contain metals and plastics that can be reused and the batteries within require safe disposal when they become waste.

A circular economy provides us with the opportunity to consume fewer resources and to extend the life of resources by turning more waste into resources and keeping them in the supply chain.”

Recycling Vape Waste

Vaping products contain electronic components and lithium-ion batteries and require safe disposal when they become waste. When damaged, short-circuited or overheated, these batteries can catch fire and present a risk to the health and safety of waste collection workers and others. Vapes also contain a complex mixture of critical raw materials such as cobalt, nickel and manganese, which can be re-used.

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