Protect Our Rivers: Join the Movement to Ban Disposable E-Cigarettes

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UK river protection organization, ARK, clears 424 items of rubbish, including 20 disposable e-cigarettes, from the Kennet River.

According to a report by the British media outlet Wiltshire Times on December 5th, the UK river conservation organization “ARK (Avon River Kennet)” has cleared out 424 pieces of litter from the Kennet River. The most commonly found item among this rubbish is disposable e-cigarette products.

In just one morning, a river conservation organization has cleared 20 e-cigarettes from a small section of the Kennet River in Marlborough. Anna Forbes, the project’s senior executive, stated, “Our volunteers frequently come across discarded e-cigarettes on the riverbed, particularly in public areas. This phenomenon is clearly increasing.” She pointed out, “Disposable e-cigarettes are exacerbating the plastic pollution crisis in our rivers, and they also contain heavy metals and toxic chemicals.

The Kennett River is one of the only 260 chalk rivers in the world and is home to numerous species on the brink of extinction, such as the European eel. While most rivers are designated as Special Scientific Interest Areas (SSIAs), volunteers are concerned that sewage and plastic pollution could pose a threat to the river’s inhabitants.

Disposable e-cigarette usage in the UK has surged from 1.3 million to nearly 5 million per week nationwide, with alarming growth among children and young people. One contributing factor is a lack of awareness about e-cigarette recycling. However, due to the complexity of their components and the need for manual disassembly, recycling these disposable e-cigarettes is extremely challenging.

The current Kennet River initiative is calling for a ban on disposable e-cigarettes in order to protect the health of young people and our rivers. Anna added, “The plastic casing of e-cigarettes will pollute our rivers for many years, ultimately breaking down into microplastics and posing yet another threat to water quality and the health of aquatic flora and fauna.” The government’s consultation on the ban of disposable e-cigarettes will conclude on Wednesday, December 6th, and ARK urges local residents to voice their opinions in order to protect their rivers.

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