AN environmental campaigner has called on the Scottish Government to ban the use of disposable vapes.

Laura Young, 26, is a PhD student based in Dundee who found 55 disposable vapes in the space of an hour as she walked through the city.

She started a campaign to ban the item after spotting them in Glasgow last year.
Young worked with MP Kirsten Oswald to help raise awareness of the issue.

Young told The National: “A lot of what I’m trying to do is educate. If you don’t use vapes then you maybe don’t really know what they are.

“Until I really looked at them, I thought they were highlighters or something which had fallen out of a rucksack.”

The 26-year-old has worked with organisations like Keep Scotland Beautiful and Ash Scotland to promote awareness of the the environmentally damaging effect they can have.

She explained: “I would be out and about and would tweet a photo to say what I’ve found but I wasn’t really keeping track or counting and a lot of people would ask how many I’d found.

“I’ve probably walked past loads of them so I thought it was time to properly research, time it and track it to see how many I could find across an area.

“I walked from the west end of Dundee, through the city centre and weaved in and out of a few places I thought might have them because it’s a massive issue.”

Young said her discovery of 55 vapes was made even worse when she took into account she was only walking on one side of the road.

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She added that she was unable to look at areas which were fenced off, covered in litter or where there was broken glass lying.

The worst hit spots were those near takeaways, nightclubs and bars, she said.

“I walked four miles at a reasonable pace. I wasn’t even scanning around too intensely and I still found so many.

“The first one was two metres from my front door. My dad has decided to start picking them up as well and he’s finding five or six just around his block of houses," Young explained.

Why are they so damaging?

Disposable vapes are made up of several different materials, many of which can be damaging to the environment.

“The main difference between a normal vape and a disposable one is the disposable comes ready to go, you unbox it and begin to use it.

“The idea is once it runs out of the liquid you just throw it away and get a new one.

“Disposable anything isn’t good because it just means we are making it once to use and throw away", Young explained. 

The National: Laura Young found 55 disposable vapes in one walkLaura Young found 55 disposable vapes in one walk (Image: NQ)

Lithium batteries and copper are part of what makes up the item which, when damaged, can release hazardous chemicals waste.

They are classed as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and should be disposed of properly at a recycling centre.

Young added: “The technology they use could technically be recharged. I always say to people, imagine your phone ran out of battery, you don’t just throw it away.”

What needs to happen?

Young does not believe that the use of disposable vapes fits into the idea of a circular economy.

An open letter signed by numerous environmental campaigners was previously sent to Steve Barclay and Thérèse Coffey calling for a ban at a UK level. 

Young explained: “If we do want to move towards a circular society, this needs to change. Zero waste and circularity is the answer.

“I think the pressure is on because Scotland has led the world in so many different things to do with climate change, there are countless things we’ve done and are doing.

“I just hope this can change.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Littering is illegal, unsightly and harmful to our communities, environment and wildlife – there is no excuse for this behaviour anywhere in Scotland.

"The Scottish Government is considering the emerging issues around single-use disposable vapes, and in the meantime it must be remembered that these devices are electronic equipment and should always be disposed of responsibly.”