GREATER Manchester has thrown its support behind the Local Government Association’s recent call for a ban on disposable vapes, citing the fire risk the devices cause when they enter the waste stream.
GMCA is the largest joint waste disposal authority in the country, handling around 1.1 million tonnes of municipal waste each year. Chair of the GMCA’s Waste and Recycling Committee, Alan Quinn, wrote to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Therese Coffey, to express his support for the ban.
Councillor Quinn said:
“Whilst there may be health benefits associated with vapes, the increase in uptake and use is having a major impact on waste management operations from, often irresponsibly, discarded vapes.
“These vapes are a hazard for collection crews, waste management facilities and operatives due to the lithium batteries inside causing fires when pierced, damaged, or crushed. An increasing number of fires in waste management facilities and collection trucks are caused by disposable vapes and other items containing lithium batteries within the waste. We had 37 fire related incidents to end of June alone due to Lithium batteries and we’ve just agreed to spend £100,000 on thermal cameras to monitor for fires in our facilities”.
“Aside from the environmental impact of waste related fires, such incidents also cause significant disruption to waste services with knock on impacts for residents if collection rounds are not completed. The council taxpayers of Greater Manchester shouldn’t be left to pick up the bill for the dumping of these vapes”.
As the EU is a proposing a ban in 2026 and a ban in France is coming into force in December 2023, the LGA has said that it is crucial for England and Wales to follow suit to avoid a flood of vapes coming into the country.
GMCA has proposed the government go one step further and introduce a deposit return scheme, which would see users receive credit in return for their used vapes, in order to capture and recycle the lithium contained within them.
Councillor Tom Ross, GMCA lead for the Environment, Waste and Recycling, said:
“Local councils are spending more of taxpayers’ money on putting out fires across our waste facilities and repairing damaged equipment. With 1.3 million vapes thrown away every week, the situation is unsustainable and will only get worse unless swift action is taken by government.
“Beyond being a highly flammable material, lithium is a finite resource that must be conserved as we phase out fossil fuels and move towards a cleaner, greener future.”