Draft legislation on vape ban published, as Wastecare successfully trials mechanised vape recycling process

Posted on 15th March, 2024

Hazardous waste management provider Wastecare Group, have successful trialed a mechanised vape recycling process at their Halifax battery recycling plant.

In this week’s budget announcement (Weds 6th March 2024), the Government confirmed they plan to ban disposable vapes in in England, in line with Scotland and Wales. This has now been confirmed in a published draft of new legislation, which is set to come into place in April 2025. In addition to this, the Government have also announced that they plan to levy duty on the nicotine extract from October 2026. These incentives we hope will incentivise HMRC, Border Force and the police, to better regulate and ultimately reduce the grey import of vapes.

What is in no doubt is that the popularity of vapes is likely to continue to increase in 2025, with an ever-increasing number being discarded into general waste. To tackle this issue, all vape retailers are now required to offer free disposal. While, public buildings, hospitality venues and other commercial premises are providing dedicated vape bins. This means a huge increase in safe disposal routes becoming available to most users. Despite this, we are still relying on a cultural change in public vape disposal habits.

Wastecare Trials Mechanised Vape Recycling ProcessWastecare was the first recycler to roll out a national collection network for anyone wanting to provide their customers, employees, and visitors a safe disposal option.  Having rolled out over 8,000 free collection points over the past year, we are collecting vapes from many retailers and DCFs, while we do not export vapes or send them to another company for treatment.

Early into this initiative, the challenge that presented itself was to develop a safe, efficient, and cost-effective recycling and recovery solution. 

Wastecare Trials Mechanised Vape Recycling

The EA have banned the burning of post-consumer vapes; however, they have not as yet approved a mechanical treatment process. Instead, they continue to push hand-dismantling – arguably not a practical, cost effective nor an intrinsically safe solution.  At the same time the EA promote high temperature incineration of pre-consumer vapes. We provide this service both for unwanted and confiscated stock at our HTI facility in Kent.

With this in mind, we are very pleased to confirm that we have now achieved a safe, efficient, and cost-effective mechanised vape recycling and recovery solution for post-consumer vapes.

We have been running trials on an adaptation of our battery recycling plant to perform a mechanical treatment process. With several treatment lines for different waste streams including portable batteries, we have a track record in creating and operating mechanical and mixed manual/mechanical systems.

Furthermore, we have in-house treatment facilities for the downstream outputs of the process, with a high temperature incinerator dealing with the nicotine contaminated elements, and our channels with lithium battery recyclers to safely treat resulting batteries. For the process to be cost effective, we need build sufficient feedstock which we are currently building.

We believe this process fulfills the necessary environmental criteria: 70% + recovery, no discharge of nicotine to atmosphere, and no risk of fire.

Our Chairman Peter Hunt has said of the development:

“We are confident we will get approval on our new plant, although we expect, as will all environmental permits this will take time to processed and be awarded. In the meantime, we have a plan.”

Pending treatment, the vapes are stored at our licensed, permitted facilities. To encourage safe disposal of these devices, Wastecare are willing to subsidise the collection of vapes until such time Defra amend the regulations to encompass vapes and the EA award a permit for a viable plant in the UK.

“The race is on but no matter who is first to get approval to safely treat vapes, society, as a whole, should hopefully be the winner.” – Peter Hunt

For more information on our vape takeback schemes or WEEE producer compliance, please contact the team at compliance@wastecare.co.uk

For any enquiries regarding our vape recycling trials, please contact recycling@wastecare.co.uk.