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Oxfordshire launches one of the first public vape recycling points to tackle rising environmental impact of disposable vapes

  • Recent research by Material Focus identified that almost 5 million disposable vapes are thrown away every week in the UK

  • This means an estimated 80,000 disposable vapes are discarded in Oxfordshire every week

  • Kerbside collections, bins at household waste recycling centres and other public drop-off points located across Oxfordshire now offer easy access to vape recycling options 

Oxfordshire County Council, Cherwell District Council and ODS in partnership with Oxford City Council will together provide new vape recycling services across the county. They want to prevent the disposal of single-use vapes in litter bins, general waste or mixed recycling where they can contaminate other recycling and, in some instances, cause fires in bin trucks or waste facilities.

New vape recycling points in public spaces offer convenient and easy access for recycling vapes.  This is one of more than 40 UK projects funded by Material Focus, the not for profit leading the Recycle Your Electricals campaign who have provided over £40,000 for Oxfordshire to be one of the first county council’s to lead the way by recycling vapes. The funding is part of a wider initiative to make it easier for 10 million UK residents to recycle their electricals.

The Recycle Your Vapes campaign will:

  • Add up to 60 new recycling collection points for vapes at small retailers, shopping areas, bars and cafes across Oxford, Banbury, Bicester and Kidlington. Look out for the three-feet high, clear plastic tube vape recycling collection points. The tubes have bright pink recycle your vapes posters and images of vapes on the posters. 

  • Provide new public recycling bright pink bins at each of the seven household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) in Oxfordshire.

  • And introduce a new separate kerbside collection for vapes in Cherwell

The new household waste recycling centre (HWRC) bright pink vape bins will be installed on Wednesday 29 November, which will also start the roll out of collection points in other locations.

In all other areas of Oxfordshire, vapes can be recycled at the kerbside with other small electrical items. How they are collected in each district council area varies, residents should check the Waste Wizard or their district council's website to check the local area’s collection service. 

Residents will also be made aware of how and where they can recycle their vapes through information on leaflets, and on posters featuring HypnoCat. Keep an eye out for HypnoCat, the Recycle Your Electricals mesmerising pink, fluffy mascot, he is on a mission to hypnotise local residents into recycling their vapes.

The Material Focus Electricals Recycling Fund is making it easier for consumers to recycle their electricals. The projects that have been funded by Material Focus include a variety of recycling methods, from kerbside collections to more drop-off points in schools, community centres and bring banks. Overall, there will be over 400 new collection points plus kerbside collections for 5.5 million UK residents.

Councillor Nigel Chapman, Oxford City Council's Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services and Council Companies, said: "One small act, like putting disposable vapes in general waste or recycling, can cause immense disruption, considerable damage to our collection vehicles, and create danger to the public and our operators.

"Only last summer we had a fire in one of our waste disposal vehicles that was probably caused by a discarded vape. It led to significant damage to the vehicle and inconvenience to the public.

"It’s important to dispose of vapes appropriately so that they can be properly treated and not cause a hazard.”

Councillor Pete Sudbury, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Climate Change and Environment, said: “Partly because of their environmental impact, we would support a ban on the sale of disposable vapes and encourage reusable vapes where possible. However, while vapes are still being used and thrown away, this project will expand the range of services for residents to safely recycle them.”

Councillor Andrew McHugh, Portfolio Holder for Cleaner and Greener Communities at Cherwell District Council, added: “Cherwell District Council is always looking at developing ways to make it easier for residents to dispose of their waste appropriately and recycle more.

“We are pleased to offer residents the option to recycle disposable vapes in addition to other small electrical items at the kerbside. All residents need to do is place the vapes in a clear plastic bag on top of their blue or green bin on collection day, it’s important not to dispose of these items in the green or blue bins as the batteries can, and have, caused serious fires.”

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus, said: “We are pleased to support ‘Recycle Your Vape’ as it will help address the pressing issue of vape waste. This project could be an example for other initiatives across the UK, to make it easier to recycle vapes by providing public recycling points. By investing in improved collection and drop-off services and exploring new recycling methods, we are taking a significant step towards creating a more sustainable future by making it easier for 10 million more people to recycle their electricals.”

To find your nearest recycling point search recycle your electricals or the council’s Waste Wizard search tool.