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Tuesday, 9th July 2024

Call for Louth’s beaches and waterways to be kept free of vape waste

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Sweets, chocolate and vapes displayed side by side in a shop.

One in three adults in Ireland are unaware of where to dispose of vapes

Louth County Council are supporting the European Recycling Platform (ERP) campaign to keep Irish beaches and waterways free of vape waste.

The call was sounded following IBAL’s survey of coasts and inland waterways which 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.

Vape devices contain a variety of electronic components, including batteries, cartridges, and coils. When disposed of improperly, they can generate e-waste, which can contain a variety of hazardous chemicals and metals, including lead, cadmium, and mercury, which can be harmful to both human health and the environment.

Another problem is that many e-cigarette cartridges are made of plastic, which is not biodegradable and can take hundreds of years to break down in the environment. Many people think they should be banned altogether.

ERP Ireland is calling on vape users enjoying Louth’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.

Louth County Council are appealing to the public to properly dispose of all vape waste. Vaping products contain electronic components and lithium-ion batteries and require safe disposal. 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.

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 when 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 92% of those who vape are aware that they contain batteries. 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. 

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.”

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