Falkirk councillors have unanimously agreed to support a nationwide call for a ban on single use, disposable vapes.
Millions of the small devices are discarded across the UK every week, with hundreds recently found in just one small area of a local skate park.
Councillor Iain Sinclair, the SNP’s climate change spokesperson on Falkirk Council, said that until recently he had not been aware of the scale of the problems that disposable vapes are causing.
He told Wednesday’s meeting of Falkirk Council: “I’d like you all to picture the Falkirk Stadium in your mind. Now, imagine several Falkirk Stadiums, built side-by-side from where it is currently in Westfield, all the way to the war memorial at the far side of Zetland Park.
“In 2022, the number of single-use vapes disposed in the UK would cover that entire area, with research group Material Focus placing the number of vapes disposed of in the UK at 1.3 million every week.”
Vapes, used an aid to help people quit smoking, are electrical devices built from metals like copper and aluminium with a vessel for a flavoured liquid including a lithium-ion battery, encased in a plastic shell.
He said that the fact that lithium-ion batteries can become “explosively combustible” if they are damaged in any way could prove a major risk to public safety and to council staff.
“If every one of these devices were disposed of responsibly and appropriately, this wouldn’t be an issue but these things are being recklessly discarded in our communities, in open spaces.”
He pointed out that the largest amount of disposable vapes found nationally so far was at Falkirk skate park – nearly 250 of them in a one metre squared area.
“They are turning up in our parks and in areas like Kinneil Nature Reserve, in Bo’ness.”
In what he called a “rare yet welcome showing of cross-party support”, Cllr Sinclair’s motion was seconded by Labour councillor Euan Stainbank, while the Conservative’s James Bundy also made clear his backing.
Cllr Stainbank said: “The environmental impacts are clear. As a councillor for, and a resident of, our town centre I can barely talk to a resident or business who does not recognise the massive uptick in littering from disposable vapes over the last couple of years.”
Cllr Bundy said that the increasing problem of disposable vapes is “putting a scar on our landscape”.
“That’s not what I want to do, I want to empower Scotland’s beauty and this motion today doesn’t solve the problem but it shows our collective voice as a council that we want to keep Falkirk’s beauty and keep Scotland’s beauty.”
Falkirk Council is the fifth local authority in Scotland to join calls for a national ban following a campaign by climate scientist and activist Laura Young, alongside the Marine Conservation Society, ASH Scotland and Keep Scotland Beautiful.
Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Sinclair said: “Adding Falkirk Council’s voice to growing calls will help to highlight this important issue further and I’m pleased to have secured the support of colleagues right across council.”