Locals urged to use new vape recycling bins

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Residents across Kirklees are being encouraged to use the new vape recycling bins at their local Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) to prevent fires, protect waste workers and preserve the planet.

This year the government announced that it intends to ban disposable vapes by April 2025, in a move which has been welcomed by health organisations, local councils, environmental groups and the waste and recycling industry.

Research by Keep Britain Tidy estimates that disposable vape litter has doubled in the past 2 years alone, polluting our streets and green spaces, and that a staggering 260 million single use vapes are now thrown away in the UK every year.

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The Recycle Your Electricals campaign says that Brits are chucking away almost 8 single-use vapes every second. And worryingly, in a recent study by Truth Initiative, over 50% of people reported that they don’t know how to properly dispose of these devices.

Burnt out container at Weaving Lane HWRC following a fire in late MayBurnt out container at Weaving Lane HWRC following a fire in late May
Burnt out container at Weaving Lane HWRC following a fire in late May

The impact of throwing away disposable vapes in your waste or recycling bin poses a significant threat to workers at waste and recycling facilities, including at local sites operated by SUEZ recycling and recovery UK on behalf of Kirklees Council.

According to estimates from the materials recovery facility in Huddersfield, a staggering 1000 vapes are captured every day, but many more are missed. Due to the batteries contained within the vapes, those that are missed pose a serious danger as they retain enough energy to spark a fire.

As recently as last week, a fire broke out in one of the containers at Weaving Lane HWRC after a vape was thrown in alongside other discarded items.

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Nick Browning, General Manager at SUEZ said, “It is so important that residents dispose of their vapes safely and keep them out of their bins at home. When vapes are crushed by the compactor in a collection vehicle or damaged whilst being moved around one of our waste facilities, even batteries that have run out can retain enough energy to spark a fire, as seen at Weaving Lane last week, which can endanger lives. Whilst we try our best to catch and separate them, we cannot find them all.”

To help prevent fires and protect waste workers, residents are being urged to collect their vapes and take them to be safely recycled in dedicated containers at their local HWRC, which are sent to a state-of-the-art Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) in Huddersfield operated by the recycling company, Waste Experts, as part of their Vape Recycling Solution, which uses a recycling process to recover the materials from the vapes collected in Kirklees and diverts the vapes from normal waste processing.

David Shepherd, Strategic Director for Growth & Regeneration at Kirklees Council, said, “Thanks to the quick actions of the staff and fire service, last week's fire at Weaving Lane Household Waste and Recycling Centre was caught early, and the damage at the site was contained. However, there were over 1,200 fires in bin lorries and waste sites across the UK last year, and with dry waste acting as fuel for any battery fires that start they can cause vast amounts of damage quickly. This puts our waste operatives at risk and could cause incredibly costly damage.

It’s important that any items that contain batteries are disposed of safely using the vape and electrical skips on HWRCs, independent recycling points throughout the district, or by using our bulky waste collection service. Any items that are still usable can be donated to our reuse shop, or taken to donation points at Emerald Street & Weaving Lane HWRCs.”