Plastics Policy Positive but What About Cigarette Butts?

big tobacco challenged on litter

A leading New Zealand vaping company says Labour’s policy on plastics is a step in the right direction but says cigarette butt pollution remains the worst offender with their manufacturers yet to be held accountable.

“Good on Labour for taking positive action to remove plastic rubbish from our oceans and environment by phasing out single-use and hard to recycle plastics, while creating a fund for businesses to develop alternatives,” says Ben Pryor, co-owner of Vapo and Alt New Zealand - the largest Kiwi-owned vape company.

However, Mr Pryor and fellow co-owner Jonathan Devery, believe more attention needs to be paid to eliminating cigarette butts after a national litter audit last year found that over 10 billion cigarette butts pollute New Zealand’s ecosystem.

The vaping entrepreneurs say Vapo and Alt New Zealand are steadfastly committed to leading e-cigarette recycling in New Zealand, encouraging a smoke-free country and a sustainable future.

They’ve launched a first-of-its-kind recycling programme where New Zealanders who vape can now responsibly dispose of their e-cigarette waste in two ways: Dropping their devices and pods off at a Vapo store, or sending e-cigarette waste through the post.

“Not only is vaping much safer than smoking, but our products are now also much more environmentally friendlier. We don’t want to be negligent like the tobacco industry. Instead, we’re committed to doing our bit for the environment, and the likes of this latest policy and fund will see other businesses taking steps to save our oceans and environment,” said Devery.

Vapo and Alt New Zealand, has partnered with global recycling pioneers, TerraCycle, to offer the first programme of its kind to recycle vaping devices and pods.

To recycle from home, participants simply sign up to the programme at www.terracyle.com, collect their waste in any available cardboard box (up to four batteries per shipment), print off a free shipping label then drop it off at their nearest post office.

“E-cigarette waste is particularly difficult to recycle due to the complexity of separating out the different materials. However, we approached TerraCycle for an innovative solution. In the end, we’ve developed a unique recycling programme and process which could potentially save millions of pods, e-waste and batteries from ending up in New Zealand’s environment,” said Pryor.

For every kilogramme of vaping equipment sent to TerraCycle, Vapo and Alt donate $1 towards the charity Sustainable Coastlines – which works to keep New Zealand’s coastlines beautiful.

“Labour announced its policy to phase out single-use plastics and reduce waste overall at Sustainable Coastlines’ headquarters in Auckland which is a great charity we’re delighted to support.

“However, one key finding from the Keep New Zealand Beautiful 2019 national litter audit remains unaddressed, the number of cigarette butts per smoker that are polluting our environment.

"It’s time Big Tobacco were held accountable and dug deep into their pockets,” said Devery.