Press Release: The Rivers Trust supports proposed ban on single-use disposable vapes in Ireland due to rising plastic and chemical pollution in waterways

The Rivers Trust, the leading charity in Ireland, Northern Ireland & Great Britain dedicated to the conservation and restoration of rivers and their catchments, is calling for a complete ban in Ireland on the manufacture, sale, distribution, or free offer of single-use disposable vaping devices. 

Matthew Woodard


Responding to the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications public consultation on disposable vaping devices, the leading river conservation charity wants single-use plastic vapes removed from sale because of their increasing pollution impact on rivers and the marine environment.

Ireland Development Manager for The Rivers Trust Dr Constanze O’Toole said: “Disposable vapes containing plastic, electronics, chemicals, and lithium-ion batteries, are increasingly leaching harmful waste materials such as mercury and cadmium into our rivers and waterways which is posing a threat to human health and nature’s biodiversity.

“The prevalence of disposable vapes as a source of litter pollution in Ireland is staggering, with nearly 12.5 million vapes estimated to have been sold last year alone. The return and recycle rate for disposable vapes is exceptionally low and the message that they must be recycled is not cutting through to the public. Unfortunately, the improper disposal of these vapes, often due to confusion among consumers on recycling methods, results in a major source of chemical and plastic pollution in our rivers.

“That is why we are calling on Minister Ryan to now ban the manufacture, sale, and distribution of single-use disposable vaping devices in Ireland. The current use of such vapes is not compliant with Ireland’s commitments to The Circular Economy Act or the EU Directive on Single-Use Plastics.

“The impact on aquatic life and water quality cannot be understated. Birds, animals, and fish are at risk of ingesting plastic fragments and toxic chemicals, disrupting the delicate balance

of our ecosystems. This not only affects aquatic animal, insect and plant species but also poses risks to humans who rely on these waterways for drinking water abstraction and recreational activities.

“The Rivers Trust firmly believes that a comprehensive ban on single-use disposable vapes is a necessary step towards preserving the health of our waterways. By reducing the amount of non-biodegradable waste entering rivers and marine environments, we can mitigate the environmental damage caused by these items. Moreover, such a ban will serve as an opportunity to raise public awareness about the proper disposal of vapes, it also reinforces understanding of the vulnerability of our rivers and the need for all of us to protect them.

“While single-use vapes are still in circulation, we are appealing to the public to dispose of them correctly to ensure they are not a source of pollution in rivers. Consumers should be aware that they can return waste vaping devices, free of charge, to any retail outlet that sells them, when purchasing a new one, or they can be disposed of in the battery area at civic amenity sites. Retailers and distributors are obliged to take back disposable, single-use, rechargeable vape and/or e-cigarette devices.

“We appreciate and support the government's efforts to address this new and increasing river pollution issue. If a ban is enacted after the consultation process, it will help significantly reduce the number of single-use vapes in circulation and protect Ireland's precious water environment.

“The Rivers Trust stands ready to collaborate with policymakers and other stakeholders to ensure the successful implementation of this ban by helping to raise public awareness of responsible disposal and continuing to contribute our expertise in all aspects of safeguarding the integrity of our water resources.”

Read our consultation response here.

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