Disposable vapes: "I see them in the bushes and hedges, cans of drink and vapes on the road and where kids hang out"

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A retired teacher has taken a bag of used vapes to a Havant council meeting as a ‘show and tell’ as she tried to make her feelings known.

Councillor Grainne Rason (Green, Emsworth) said the disposal e-cigarettes look like sweets, are bright in colour to attract children, come in a variety of flavours and feared they could open a gateway to encourage smoking and drug use.

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The used vape collection was part of her litter-picking campaign as she tried to clear the streets and Emsworth Park of rubbish.

After the meeting, she said: “Walking along the Emsworth Bridge Road towards the park, I see them in the bushes and hedges, cans of drink and vapes on the road and where kids hang out. On a typical day, I can collect four or five. Other people collect and give them to me to recycle.”

The vapes collected by Councillor Grainne RasonThe vapes collected by Councillor Grainne Rason
The vapes collected by Councillor Grainne Rason | Noni Needs LDR

There was cross-party agreement at the Havant Borough Council meeting (March 20) where a motion to do more with recycling of vapes and hard plastics in Havant was suggested. The meeting heard the plastics in both get broken down into microplastics and could end up in the sea and human food chain.

The motion was introduced by Councillor Andy Briggs (Con, Cowplain) and seconded by Councillor Imogen Payter (Con, St Faith’s).

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Cllr Briggs said nationally, five million disposable vapes are thrown away each week and research shows vape chemicals have caused 700 lorry bin and waste recycling centre fires.

At the meeting, members were told that lithium in vapes is being repurposed to make power packs that can fuel communication devices for Ukraine soldiers.

Returning disposable vapes

The meeting also heard that Havant Borough only has 14 collection points for disposable vapes and the council will look at how that can be increased.

Standing outside Tesco’s Express in Emsworth, Cllr Rason said: “Well done to Tescos and Co-op they are doing this voluntarily. It’s the manufacturers’ responsibility to recycle vapes, these shops don’t have to do it and they are doing it for the community.”

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She said other, smaller shops recycle disposable vapes but are reluctant to advertise the fact as they don’t want to be recycling vapes not bought from their shops as it costs them money.

She said disposable vapes should be returned to the place they were bought for recycling. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer instead it’s been made the job of the council who are spending money on cleaning them up, she said.

She also said that if you buy disposable vapes online and you return five used vapes you can get one free.

Last month, the UK Government introduced legislation aimed at curbing youth smoking with the Tobacco and Vapes Bill, which aims to tackle youth vaping by introducing new powers to restrict vape flavours and packaging intentionally marketed at children.

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Separately, it has committed to ban disposable vapes from April 2025 under environmental laws.

Cllr Rason said she doesn’t believe that banning vapes will help but just send them underground. She did suggest that retired pensioners should take up vaping to ensure youngsters wouldn’t find the pastime attractive.

Litter picking

Cllr Rason said: “Eight million people took part in a litter pick last year because people do not like litter. The first bit of litter is the worst piece because it says this is OK.

“The more litter you pick, the less litter you get.”

She added: “Litter picking is important to help teach children about taking responsibility for clearing up after themselves. Our disposable society does not see it as their responsibility to clear up after themselves.”

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