In January 2023 the Scottish Government commissioned Zero Waste Scotland to carry out a review of the environmental impact of and potential policy options for improving the management of single-use e-cigarettes, reducing pollution and enhancing the safe recycling of the products they contain.
The review estimates*:
- In 2022 10.8% of the adult population were regular users of e-cigarettes and that of these, more than a quarter (27%) were estimated to be users of single-use e-cigarettes
- In the 52 weeks to early April 2023, the number of disposable vapes consumed in Scotland was estimated to be between 21 and 26 million units
- The lithium polymer batteries used in some of the most popular e-cigarettes could be recharged 500 times if the product allowed for such
- The total emissions associated with single-use vapes in 2022 was estimated to be between 3375 and 4292 tonnes CO2e
- The weight of packaging and materials discarded as a result of single-use e-cigarette consumption in Scotland is currently between 800 and 1,000 tonnes per year
Environmental impacts highlighted by the review include the waste impact of littering, risks associated with unsafe disposal of their contents including lithium batteries and chemicals, and greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption generated in their manufacture.
This report recommends a shortlist of nine high level potential policy options to be considered further by Ministers, from which the Scottish Government may prioritise further policy work to address these environmental impacts.