On April 27th, 2023, the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA) announced the publication of its "Greenprint for Sustainable Vaping."
The comprehensive plan was developed after a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders from the waste industry, regulators, retail sector, vape manufacturers, and consumer behavior experts. The plan aims to tackle the growing concern over the environmental impact of vaping, particularly single-use products.
John Dunne, the Director General of the UKVIA, explained the motivation behind the Greenprint:
"Whilst entry-level single use devices are responsible for record numbers of adult smokers switching to vaping due their ease of use and convenience, the industry realises that much more must be done to safeguard against their impact on the environment. The fact is that disposables have been around for a while but have become hugely popular in the last couple of years, particularly with those on low incomes who are amongst the most prevalent smokers."
"The Greenprint aims to mobilise environmental action to support a sustainable vaping sector in the future. It covers the development of recycling infrastructure which is fit for the vaping industry, new vape innovations that make products more recyclable and reusable, as well as the support that needs to be put in place to encourage greater retailer and consumer participation in the environmentally-conscious disposal of vape products."
The plan also addresses concerns over the carbon footprint of vaping. The UKVIA recognizes that reducing carbon emissions is an urgent priority, and the Greenprint includes measures to reduce emissions from manufacturing and transportation.
The UKVIA is optimistic that the Greenprint will be a significant step towards creating a more sustainable vaping industry. "We believe that the Greenprint will help mobilize environmental action to support a sustainable vaping sector in the future," said Dunne. "We are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure that the Greenprint is implemented effectively and that the UK's vaping industry can continue to grow and thrive in a sustainable way."
The publication of the Greenprint comes at a time when environmental concerns are at the forefront of public consciousness. Consumers are increasingly demanding products that are environmentally friendly, and the vaping industry must respond to this demand if it wishes to maintain its growth trajectory.
Overall, the Greenprint for Sustainable Vaping is a welcome development that demonstrates the UKVIA's commitment to creating a more sustainable vaping industry. The plan addresses many of the concerns that have been raised about the environmental impact of vaping, and it lays out a clear path forward for the industry. As the UK's vaping industry continues to grow, it will be crucial for stakeholders to continue working together to ensure that the industry remains environmentally responsible and sustainable.
This is a very beautiful initiative and a great introduction to self-regulation, which gives the vaping industry a chance to standardize the market and counteract excessive government regulations.
The environmental action list includes:
- Point-of-sale posters to be used in store to inform vape customers that used devices should be recycled and not thrown away.
- Better training for retail staff so they can properly advise customers about recycling options.
Retailers to inform vapers that refillable, multi-use devices are more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than single use systems.
- Retailers to provide in-store collection points for all used vape devices brought in for disposal (not just those products purchased from their particular store) and encourage people to use them.
- In-store collection points to be prominently located with no obligations for those dropping off devices to buy more.
- Industry to refer to disposables as recyclables and not single-use products in order to stop their throwaway behaviours.
- Manufacturers and/or retailers to offer incentives to customers for recycling used devices.
- Develop public information advertising campaigns to normalise recycling of vapes so that there is social shame and peer pressure in throwing them away.
- Harness smartphone apps to inform vapers regarding their nearest vape recycling bin.
- Vape manufacturers and retailers to incorporate recycling guidance and messages in future promotional campaigns and on/within packaging.
- Packaging to better highlight to consumers that vape devices must be recycled and not thrown away, for example through the use of words such as ‘Recyclable’ or ‘Recycle Me’.
- Explore how single use vape products can be re-engineered for future use.
- Vape manufacturers to visit waste processing plants so they can understand material flow and build this factor into the design of their products to facilitate the recycling process.
- The industry to look at more environmentally-friendly power sources than lithium batteries.
- Make it as easy as possible for consumers to recycle used products by setting up recycling collection facilities at point of use and not just point of sale (for example pubs, clubs, transport hubs and offices).
- The vape industry and waste providers to work closely together to find a viable, long-term solution for disposing of and recycling products.
- The waste industry to design simple and easy-to-use vape recycling containers.
Regulatory and Policy
- All relevant vape businesses to be compliant with the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Regulations 2013 (WEEE regulations); the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007, the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations 2009 and the Packaging Waste (Data Reporting) Regulations 2023.
- Producers to either register with an environmental regulator or join a Producer Compliance Scheme (depending on product volumes)
- Proportionate regulation to ensure that manufacturers are environmentally responsible but without deterring smokers from switching to vaping.
- The regulatory framework to not only punish transgressors but also reward producers for their environmental performances.
- Revise legislation to increase maximum tank sizes from 2ml to 10ml to reduce waste drastically.
For further information contact Robin O’Kelly +44(0)7786 702526