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    South Tyneside to promote safe disposal of disposable vapes

    By Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter

    South Tyneside Council would undertake further work to promote the recycling of disposable vapes amid concerns over the “significant impact” the waste can have on the environment.

    Councillors have also unanimously backed calls to write to MPs and to continue to take “proactive enforcement” in a bid to prevent children under the age of 18 from vaping.

    It comes after a motion signed by 11 Labour councillors on the topic went before the latest full council meeting on Thursday evening (September 7), which received unanimous backing from all in attendance.

    Raised by councillor Shane Smith, it called on the local authority to continue to implement measures to ensure regulations around the sale and safe disposal of vapes are enforced.

    It also asks MPs Kate Osborne and Emma Lewell-Buck, who represent Jarrow and South Shields respectively, to write to the secretary of state to “implore the government to take appropriate measures to protect young people from purchasing vape products”.

    This will include asking that vapes are displayed in plain packaging to make them less appealing to children and are marketed as a medicinal product to aid people stopping smoking.

    Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Smith said: “The use of vapes potentially exposes children to a lifelong nicotine addiction.

     “Disposable vapes are often cheap and packaged in bright colours, displayed prominently by retailers, and this marketing strategy makes them more appealing to under 18s.

    “There is a need to strike the right balance between protecting young people and the environment and supporting smokers to quit by using vapes instead of cigarettes.”

    The selling of vapes to under 18s is illegal, however retailers are “not always compliant with the regulations”, which allows children access to vapes.

    Cllr Smith added schools in the borough have done “important work” in making young people aware of the dangers of the devices, which the council are continuing to support.

    Councillors also heard a national study found 14 million single use vapes are purchased every month in the UK, with more than 50 per cent of them thrown away, equating to 1.3 million single use vapes each week. (An update of this study by Material Focusm published on Friday, a day after the council meeting, revealed that this number has since quadrupled to nearly 5 million a week).

    “At this stage of the climate crisis we cannot afford to waste such valuable resources,” Cllr Smith said. “The products are marked as disposable so the messaging around recycling them is not clear enough.”

    The motion will therefore see the council encourage retailers to participate in the ‘Take-Back Scheme’ which makes electrical recycling points available in store.

    Meanwhile residents can also safely recycle their vapes at the Middlefields Recycling Village.

    The motion also calls on the local authority to support retailers by reminding them of their responsibilities regarding the prohibition of sales of vapes to under 18s.

    It adds the council’s trading standards service will be asked to continue work to support compliance with regulations and take enforcement action when necessary.

    (Local Democracy Reporting Service)

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