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27 July 2023

Robertson Construction Addresses Risk of Single Use Vape Disposal in Recycling Trial

As a responsible employer, Robertson Construction has been discouraging smoking on its sites in order to promote better health. While it acknowledges there may never be a smoke free workforce, it continues its commitment to being a responsible business, and in light of the recent rise in the use of single use disposable vapes and the environmental risk they pose, Robertson has rolled out disposable vape recycling bins at sites across Tayside working with supply chain waste partner, Binn Group.

With 1.3 million single-use vapes being thrown away every week, the disposable items, which contain lithium batteries pose a significant threat to the environment.

To combat the threat of fire which can be caused by the incorrect disposal of lithium batteries the vape recycling bins mean that these single use items are now manually dismantled, segregated and cleaned before their components are recycled.

Robertson is the first tier one contractor to use the service on a construction site in Scotland which is being provided by Binn Group.

Elliot Robertson, Chief Executive Officer, Robertson Group, said: "We continue to work with all employees as part of our commitment to wellbeing with support to discourage smoking in a bid to improve health. Whilst this campaign is on-going, we have been working with all our sites and offices to raise awareness of the danger of the incorrect disposal of single use vapes at work and at home. At Robertson we are conscious of all the actions that we take to try and combat our impact on the environment for today and for the future.

"Robertson, along with many local authorities, support the Scottish Government review to seek a complete ban on disposable vapes due to impact they are having on public health and the environment. Until a ban is in place, we can ensure that they are disposed of correctly across our sites to reduce environmental damage and risk of fire. The accumulation of over 1.3 million single-use vapes being disposed of every week accumulates to 10 tonnes of lithium a year, the equivalent of the lithium contained in the batteries of 1,200 electric vehicles."

Binn Group supports the UK's WEEE Regulations offering container delivery, collection and safe disposal service for vapes.

Jim Brown, Commercial Director, Binn Group, commented: "We are delighted to be able to partner with Robertson Group on this initiative to ensure that disposable vapes are segregated at source and not littered or disposed of as general waste. Not only are single-use vapes bad for public health, they are also bad for the environment. From litter on our streets, to the risk of fires in waste facilities, there are issues which need to be addressed urgently and by working together with Robertson Group we are ensuring that these vapes are captured for recycling.

"The good news is that the single-use vapes we collect at Binn Group go through a process of being manually dismantled, with the plastic, metal and glass components all being separated for recycling. The lithium battery is also removed and is sent for recycling also. This ensures closed loop recycling of these components. It is estimated that around 2.7 million single-use vapes were discarded in Scotland in 2022. Almost two thirds of Scotland's Councils back the move to ban single-use vapes. Until they are banned, we hope the roll out of this recycling service can raise the profile of the challenge the country is facing and encourage more people to seek out a sustainable recycling solution."

Recycling of vapes also save 72 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Robertson is committed to reducing its carbon impact and is now recognised as 'climate positive' having become one of the first UK businesses in the built environment to achieve carbon neutrality, in 2018. It has been further recognised for the actions it has taken by UN Climate Neutral Now, for its approach to measuring reducing and offsetting its carbon emissions; Resource Efficiency Pledge Platinum through Zero Waste Scotland in recognition of resource efficiency improvements; Supply Chain Sustainability School Partner and Gold level member status for supporting its supply chain with free sustainability assessments, development plans and learning resources; and a signatory of 'Terra Carta', part of HRH The Prince of Wales' Sustainable Markets Initiative (SMI).