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David Burns: Hello everyone, my name is David Burns. I work for a company Bay Pharma in Australia and we manufacture and supply products through the prescription only model that exists in Australia and we also operate in New Zealand. I've been involved in nicotine vaping in one form or another since about 2016, and my background and experience is in the in vitro diagnostics industry, medical devices industry.
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Martin Steinbauer: Good morning, my name is Martin Steinbauer. I'm originally from Austria, but have been in the United States now for 13 years. Originally started out at Harvard University, where I got a degree in applied mathematics, and then afterwards worked in financial services. And now I'm a chief engineer of a vaporizer technology company focusing on sustainability and IoT solutions.
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Alex Wodak: I think we've each got microphones, we can use those. Firstly, an apology to the women who are present. We did try to have some better gender representation on the panel, but unfortunately we weren't able to achieve that, which is barely forgivable in this day and age. Secondly, a comment about my own philosophy. I see this as a workshop. Unfortunately, with people on a panel, on a podium, and the audience seated at a lower level, I wish we had a more interactive format, a circular format, and I'm very much hoping this will be interactive, very interactive. You're going to get a lot of PowerPoints and didactic presentations, valuable material, but this is a subject that really cries out for lots of people speaking. So please feel free to take part in this session telling us your own views and thoughts. It's an area which hasn't been subject to a lot of research or discussion and I very much hope that in future meetings of this kind and in future research and in future publications, there'll be much more attention paid to reducing the environmental impact of all nicotine products. And there are really several reasons for this. One is I think many of us around the planet are increasingly aware of the terrible environmental state of the planet and the responsibility we all have to try and reduce the increasing damage that's being done to the environment in our planet. Secondly, The topic of environmental damage from vaping particularly is being increasingly used by opponents of vaping as a way of trying to keep vaping away, and I think that's very sad. And so my hope is that the discussion today will kick off this subject so that we start paying much more attention to it. I think what I'm planning to do is I haven't got any... I haven't got any slides or PowerPoint. I don't think any of us on the panel have, but hoping that we'll make impromptu remarks and stimulate a lot of discussion. Let's start off with considering before all else how does the environmental of smoking compare to the environmental impact of vaping and other forms of tobacco harm reduction? Let's ask you, Peter, Colin, and other members of the panel to discuss that, and of course, welcome contributions from the floor.
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Pieter Vorster: I think briefly that, well, my first point would be that Whether it is less or more harmful, that is a sort of an argument that I don't think will wash really with the antis, unfortunately, and I think we've seen that on the health impact that nobody pays any attention to that. So I think whilst there is clearly a very significant harm from smoking and cigarette filters and if you look at the whole sort of overall cycle of the manufacturing cigarettes in terms of the environmental harm and clearly the argument would be it is significantly more harmful. I think what has made Where it becomes more difficult now is with the advent of disposables or single-use vapes, which is just exponentially increasing the amount of waste and the sort of complexities around that of the industry. So I think it is really, it is an important point, but I think we need to be cautious about suggesting that, you know, the environmental impact is less. I think the opponents are – who've been relying on really questionable science to attack the industry. are what we're seeing is sort of seizing on this as something that's backed by science and clear evidence of harm, and therefore weaponizing that to some extent, or to a large extent, to be honest.
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Colin Mendelsohn: Yes, well, I agree with that, of course. And I mean, there is this total resistance to evidence. And no matter how good our arguments are, certainly in Australia, they don't seem to have much impact once the lines have been drawn. There are special issues around vaping products, though. Of course, there is the issue of, well, fires in disposal in landfill and in waste bins, although, of course, there are more fires from cigarette smoking. But of course, yeah, I mean, there are certainly more toxins released from cigarette butts, and we know that they survive hundreds of years. Vaping devices release chemicals. But I think there is some hope, because when we did a discussion paper on recycling products, it seems like there is a huge opportunity for recycling these disposable products. And the experts that we've spoken to have suggested that Most of the chemicals and the hardware within disposable products can be recycled, including the plastics and the metals. There are small parts that can't be, but mostly it is an area that we can address and I think we have to address it because it will be weaponised against vaping and of course there's the importance for the planet, but it will be weaponised against vaping and we have to give it our maximum attention.
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David Burns: Thank you. Yeah, of course, I agree with everything that's been said. And it's an important point that that argument of which is worse, cigarette butts or disposable vapes in landfill. And I think really there's an opportunity, like Colin says, that the even disposable devices and others can be recycled. There's actually useful material within those. And there's a lot of discussion around the circular economy and, you know, putting back into play materials that are used to manufacture. And right now, I mean, pretty much everywhere, the disposable devices go to landfill. And it's really just a case of organizing industry, retailers, whoever needs to be involved to bring those products back for recycling. In Australia, you know, there are other problems apart from just the waste of lithium and metals and plastics and that going to landfill. There, we've spoken to a number of waste disposal companies who have highlighted issues around landfill fires. You know, there's a high load of lithium ion batteries that are generally unstable making their way into landfill. And as the compactors or machinery rolls across, it can, And it's not necessarily, they can't confirm if it's due to disposable devices, but there's a strong suspicion that with the number of batteries in landfill, that that could be a reason for landfill fires. And some of those can go for, there was a case in Melbourne that we discussed for months. They're very difficult to put out, years even. And similarly, pick up trucks that pick up general waste from the side of the road from your house have compactors in them and there's been issues of fires within those. So there's a whole lot of downstream problems with lithium ion batteries making their way into the waste, the general waste stream. But, like I say, and like Colin says, it can be recycled, and it's just a case of organizing the pickup. So it's kind of onus on the industry really to figure that out. It can be solved, but there's a lot of work to be done.
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Alex Wodak: Martin, you've had experience or knowledge at least of an area with some similarities to vaping where there's also been a lot of concern about environmental impact and to some extent at least there are some encouraging developments in that area. Would you like to tell us more about that?
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Martin Steinbauer: Yeah, no, thank you. So I think what you're referring to is the fact that one of our co-founders in the business is the former CEO of Nespresso North America. And one of the reasons when they started Nespresso.com in the early, in the mid 90s, you know, and cartridges were actually a fairly small part of the coffee business. Nobody really cared about the sustainability of cartridges, but then once cartridges reached a certain, you know, I would say, size of a market, then it became a very large issue for the company actually to come up with ways to reduce their carbon footprint. And there have been very innovative ways, buying espresso for instance, that address both the collection of the cartridges and then also the disposal of the cartridges and the reuse of certain components. And that's actually something that we do as a business as well. Having had Fred as part of our team has been helpful. in building in sustainability into our DNA directly from day one, from design to manufacturing and so forth. But to the question of cigarettes and do we know about how sustainable cigarettes are vis-a-vis vapes, there's actually one very interesting paper by Imperial College London from 2019. which has sort of a life cycle analysis or carbon analysis from cultivation to other parts of making cigarettes that we very much like. And it basically found that one cigarette is roughly 14 grams of CO2 emissions. And then it's quite interesting to us because we know that vaporizers definitely emit more carbon dioxide when they are produced. For instance, our battery alone, three and a half grams of lithium would emit 52.5 grams just from the mining. But what's important here is comparing a vaporizer that we make two cigarettes in a conversion area that just makes sense. For instance, since we're 80 milligrams and you'd roughly have one milligram per cigarette, you could say that roughly 80 cigarettes are equivalent to one vape. And then 80 cigarettes multiplying times 14 grams, you get 1.1 kilograms, right? And is a vape more sustainable than 1.1 kilograms? We believe so, but there has not been any research done, whether by academia or by us, that we know of.
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Alex Wodak: Well, that's very encouraging, and your colleagues in Nespresso did achieve some success in some countries, but failed to achieve similar success in other countries. Could you tell us a bit more about that?
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Martin Steinbauer: Yeah, absolutely. And this is actually where sort of the first thing that we really proposed that our industry needs to do is to study the carbon emissions of the actual product. So for ENDS, it would be open systems, it would be cartridges, and it would also be disposables to really understand the underlying science of carbon emissions by product category. But then more importantly is human behavior, and that's really where Nespresso comes in. Human behavior, understanding what people do if you just give them a product without telling them anything. What do they do in terms of its disposal? Then you also need to study what do you do in terms of educating these people? Do they understand that their behavior is wasteful? Do they understand that there are carbon emissions that could be reduced by simply dropping off these products either in a direct-to-consumer fashion, with a recycling bag, which Nespresso is very known for, or in a collection receptacle, which, you know, we've seen some successes in the vaporizer industry specifically. So, but then learning about how do you actually do this in our industry I think is key from Nespresso. And here it's interesting because some countries you have a lot of voluntary recycling. Nespresso doesn't pay any deposits or, you know, deposits on cartridges when they get recycled, but, Despite that, they see actually a high adoption rate in countries like Switzerland, for instance, medium high adoption rate in countries like France, and a lower adoption rate in countries like the United States. And understanding the culturally wide ideas is something that we're also quite interested in doing.
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Alex Wodak: Well, there's a lot to think about in all of that. And David, I wonder if you can tell us a bit more about how you would split the various components of vaping devices, the plastics and the lithium. How do we approach reducing the environmental impact of those and other ingredients, bearing in mind that there's increasing concern about plastic pollution in our environment?
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David Burns: Yeah, so it's very difficult because this all changes from one state to the next, from one country to the next, how they handle recycling, the sorts of recycling facilities that exist, if it's for plastics or if it's for batteries. Australia is lucky in that there are two battery recyclers that can process embedded batteries, so those are batteries that are in laptops or maybe in a drill, a rechargeable battery for a drill, that type of thing. And so can they be easily processed? I know there's been a lot of discussion around this dismantling disposal devices and sort of putting them into constituent parts, but that's kind of an unrealistic, I think, thing to do on a mass scale. Another challenge we've had in Australia is that some states would have made a sort of an issue of the nicotine e-liquid that can be present and whether or not that needs to be somehow removed. I should say that even the recyclers that we deal with in Victoria, they do need to process the vapes separate to other products. Because of the nicotine illiquid, it has an impact on the waste water that's produced when they crush and process the devices. But that issue is not insurmountable. It just really requires a bit of will from the recycler. But, you know, ultimately, the battery being embedded, regardless of what's around it, that would be considered an embedded battery and will need to be recycled as such. If the battery can be removed, then depending on the types of plastics and metals that are in the product, it will be handled in a slightly different way. So standardizing the materials that are within the products is important, possibly having the battery be removable. There's a lot of things to consider and it's really something that will depend, I think, on the sorts of recycling facilities that are available in your region.
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Alex Wodak: Thank you very much, David. We've just been given a device, which is a question and answer machine here. So we need your questions so the panel can answer them, or maybe you can put up a question and answer it yourselves. And I hope we also have some microphone facilities in the audience. If not, please come up and we'll hand you with Okay, so we're going to have a, it looks like we'll have a question, a microphone so you can answer questions from the floor. Just turning to the question now of obstacles to what we're trying to do, I'm going to ask Colin to tell you about the experience that we had when Colin tried to open up a discussion with some government officials with responsibility for this area in Australia.
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Colin Mendelsohn: Yes, the Australian Government, as you would know, is very anti-vaping and their responses aren't always based on evidence but more on an agenda that's been established for some time. So when Alex and David and I prepared started preparing a discussion paper on recycling we thought someone had to start working out a program and we just started developing a discussion paper and we spoke to some manufacturers we spoke to a number of retailers and and vapors to get some ideas and then we thought we should speak to the Department of Environment which does run a stewardship service or program for different kinds of recycling services. So there's a recycling service for computers and televisions, I think it is, or mobile phones. Anyway, the government kind of runs this in conjunction with manufacturers and the money is taken from the manufacturers so that when people import these products money is made available and a recycling service is established and it's a mandatory service and it's run with government oversight but manufacturer funding. It seemed logical that we would set up a similar program in Australia and we were told that was the best way of running the program so we approached the Department of Environment to discuss this. And they said, oh, who did you want to speak to? Who did you want us to speak to? And we said, well, it's David. He's a manufacturer who has an important role in developing this program, Alex and myself. And they said, well, I'm sorry, we can't speak to you if David's going to be involved, because we don't speak to e-cigarette companies. And we said, of course, well, Dave, there's nothing to do with cigarette companies or the FCTC. And they said, well, our position is that if he's involved with an e-cigarette company, he must be a tobacco company covered by that tobacco company definition. Therefore, we can't speak to him. So we said, well, if that's unacceptable, we'll go away and think about that. And eventually we thought, well, look, we'll just have to accept that. And Alex and I will speak to them to find out if they can help develop an environmental recycling program. And we went back a couple of times, several times, sent them emails, said, look, we will speak to you without David, see what we can work out to solve this enormous environmental problem, which is getting a lot of media The Environment Minister has said that yes, we need to develop a program to address this issue. We're all terribly worried about the environmental waste. And even when Alex and I came back and said, we have nothing to do with tobacco companies or e-cigarette companies, well, it was still seen as a breach of the SCTC that we were, and that they were therefore unwilling to speak to us. And, you know, there was a point, well, how far do we go with taking this further? We could spend the next five years with letters and going to different departments when we decide to leave it there for the moment. But unfortunately, it just is an example of how They've taken a position and no matter what logical reason or evidence you come up with, even when they see that this is an important issue, they're unwilling to even discuss it with us. But they're the first ones to complain about the lack of availability of a recycling program.
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Alex Wodak: Thanks, Colin. We have a comment from the back.
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Bengt Wiberg: Hi, my name is Bengt Wiberg. I'm from Sweden. I'm an inventor and the founder of EU4Snus Movement. I'll try to formulate my question. We've been talking about disposables, the environment, plastic contents. But how does that correlate with the so-called the greater good? If half a gram of plastic in Any reduced harm product can exist if it can help maybe millions quit smoking. What is worth more? Do you understand my question? Should we go for 0.0 plastic even if it helps people quit smoking?
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David Burns: Yeah, it's just something came to my mind when you sort of asked the question in my previous role in in vitro diagnostics, there is a huge amount of plastic waste produced for consumables that go into doing laboratory testing and the consumables. has just increased year on year because they're becoming simpler and all in one and whatnot. And I recall one of the companies I worked for used to have a, they used to say that they hadn't produced enough plastic cartridges to go around the world twice. And I thought that really didn't gel very well with me. But, you know, in that circumstance, it's totally fine. And nobody asks any questions. You know, they say, well, this is necessary or it's beneficial. But it just goes to the point, what is the correlation? And I agree with your point.
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Alex Wodak: I think we can also take some encouragement from the experience of, apologies for mentioning a commercial product by name, but Nespresso I think now has come out with a cardboard container for their coffee product.
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Martin Steinbauer: Yeah, it is on market now. I think it just was recently launched a few months ago. You know, it's something that we've obviously significantly looked into in terms of our materials choices for our devices as well. We're currently, you know, mostly different types of plastics from ABS to polycarbonate to PCTG. And we have looked quite a bit into, for instance, biodegradable plastics. There's probably a few dozen actually on the market commercially, but we haven't yet found, you know, sort of the right combination for what we actually need. For instance, PCTG has excellent heat and chemicals resistance for the reservoir. We have yet to determine if we can find a biodegradable plastic that would actually have similar sort of toxicological effects on the product. So taking the toxicology and human health and safety first, and then environmental second seems to be the way that we design the products. But then even more so, even if you do use biodegradable components, They still emit carbon through the manufacturing of them, and then in the breakdown, whether they're compostable or biodegradable or otherwise, they will also emit carbon into the atmosphere. So the carbon capture problem actually doesn't get solved.
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Alex Wodak: Thank you. We've got a question coming up on this device, and thank you for the question. What are the effective ways to disseminate tobacco harm reduction? I think we'll be talking a lot about that over the next few days, so I think I won't take that question, but this gentleman in the third row.
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Attendee: You cannot throw the cartridge away. When you open it up, it automatically shoves the cartridge into a container that captures about 20 of them. So you really are changing behavior by the design of the product. And, you know, I got the bag and I emptied out into the bag. But it's interesting that you can't just take it out and throw it away.
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Martin Steinbauer: Absolutely.
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Alex Wodak: Thank you. There were some other questions from over here.
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John Oyston: Hi, I'm John Oyston, an anesthesiologist from Toronto, Canada. It seems to me there's two big strikes against disposable vapes. One is the vast amount of post-consumer waste they produce that are, at very best, difficult to recycle. And secondly, is there a pocket money solution for young people? It's a very easy thing for people to buy with their pocket money. And most countries don't allow the sale of single cigarettes, but we do allow the sale of a single vape. So I'm wondering, how bad would it be for tobacco harm reduction if we just had a ban on disposables?
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Alex Wodak: I'm going to ask Colin to comment on that.
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Colin Mendelsohn: Yeah, ban on disposables. Look, it may come to that, and we've certainly just made the decision in Australia to ban disposables because of the children. The problem is that disposables are a valuable transition model for many smokers. We know there are many people who are elderly, who aren't technically minded, who want something simple, and it's a very simple way of making a transition. And you've got to weigh up the harm from those disposables that are wasted against the potential benefits to people who would otherwise not have quit. So, and if you ban disposables, is it really going to have a big difference, make a big difference? There will still be the black market, and all of our disposables in Australia just about come from the black market. So is it really going to make a difference anyway? And we've found in other countries that when you ban one product, people transition to another product anyway. So I'm not sure it's going to make all that much difference.
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Pieter Vorster: I think you bring up... An important point, which is the whole issue around youth and youth access. I would suggest that when you look at what is driving demand or a significant portion of demand for disposables is the fact that kids are using it because they don't want to have a permanent device, which they're going to get caught with, number one. It doesn't matter what recycling program you have in place, they are not going to recycle those. They're not going to be taking it to a recycling center. ultimately to, and certainly the disposables have created the concern, not that you shouldn't be concerned about the environmental impact of the others, but just the sheer amount of waste that the disposables generate. I take your point, but I think when you put it all together, ultimately you need to work as the industry needs to solve the youth access problem, because that generates a significant amount of headlines that are always unwelcome. If you look in the UK at the moment, we have always had, well, for a number of years have had a government and public health bodies supporting vaping, and that is rapidly shifting because of the number of young people using these products. Whether you argue that it's a lot better for kids to use that than smoking, that I would agree with, but for the industry and for the future of harm reduction, really, that is a core issue underlying a lot of anything that's going on.
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Jeannie Cameron: Yeah, in the UK, there's a policy question which is looking at this, and that's to say that it can, in a sense, perhaps solve both issues. The tank size limit at 2 mil is very small. If you actually were able or required to increase that to, say, 10 or whatever, the price of the product also goes up. So you solve, you have less environmental throwaways because the product is lasting instead of a day, it might last a week. And secondly, it's outside the affordability of, instead of being five pounds, it's been estimated to be, it would be about 15 pounds. And therein, there's other solutions to this problem. I do find it rather difficult that people say all the time, you know, let's just ban disposables. I think the minute you do that, they go, okay, tick that box, let's now move on to the next thing. It's just the low-hanging fruit to target at the moment.
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Sud Patwardhan: I'm Sud Patwardhan, and a question or rather a comment about the examples you have given, which are amazing, from the Nespresso world, David, from the in vitro world. Can I just flag that these are consumer behaviors or specialist behaviors in very specific locations? You don't carry your Nespresso machine around when you go for a walk. Just making a point here, because I think it's very tempting to get examples from other spaces where recycling, and even there, your example, Martin, about the US being a laggard in terms of complying with Nespresso stuff. Forget doing, so how does that then translate, and what kind of research do we need? What kind of experts do we need in terms of behavior, consumer behavior insights, and human psychological kind of analysis type stuff? So any ideas on how it can be really tapped into for applying to this field?
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Martin Steinbauer: And thank you for asking the question. So this is phenomenal. Obviously, coffee is quite different from vaporizers and the Nespresso system is obviously being used at home. And, you know, as you said, the cartridges are being collected and caught in the of receptacle, and then typically what people get is a recycling bag that's direct to consumer. Nespresso has, you know, tested also the recycling boxes at retail, but because most of the Nespresso cartridges are indeed bought online by typically a consumer group that's a bit more affluent, the tests that they did were actually most successful with direct-to-consumer bags and not even needing to incentivize people with a deposit scheme. but because people who are a bit more affluent want to do good and send back the product afterwards to save on carbon emissions. It worked quite well. My personal hypothesis is that we've had this type of system up and running for three years. We have taken back direct-to-consumer recycled vapes. and we have given an incentive to do so, you know, bring 10 back, get one for free type of thing. That seems to have worked, but we haven't studied this in mass yet, so one of the things that we'd love to do is to run First of all, sort of behavioral study, where you ask people what motivates them to recycle over different jurisdictions, and trying to get various variables to find out ultimately what motivates people. Is it deposits? Is it saving carbon emissions, et cetera? And then secondly, actually doing almost a small clinical trial in stores, a real world trial, where you do test different, I guess, sizes of deposits. How much do people get rewarded for bringing back a product? Is 5 cents enough? Is 10 cents enough? Is it 25 cents? What can we learn from plastic bottle recycling and so forth? And unfortunately, nobody has done this that we know of, and we think that's a big market gap to actually solve the collection problem as well.
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Alex Wodak: I'm just going to make two comments myself quickly, and then we've got four great questions coming up. In regard to the banning of disposable vapes, I think we always have to bear in mind two different criteria that we have to start considering. One is the desirability or lack of desirability for that approach. And the second is the feasibility of it. And we always get attracted to the desirability question first and often never get around to discussing feasibility. Australia banned heroin, the production and importation of heroin, in May 1953. Before that it was legal for doctors to prescribe heroin and doctors did. It still was legal to prescribe afterwards but supplies became limited and then extinct. But anyway, so we've had this in place now for 70 years, and every year in Australia we do, the government commissions a survey of people who use drugs, asking them whether each particular illicit drug is difficult, very difficult, easy or very easy to obtain. And the result of the 2022 survey I can share with you, and people who use drugs said that getting heroin prohibited now for 70 years in Australia was, so 87% of people surveyed said getting heroin in Australia was easy or very easy. So I'd suggest to you if 70 years of effort to try and prohibit heroin hasn't achieved magnificent results, I think the banning of disposable vapes in Australia and other countries is going to be just as difficult. Now, I want to, before we get turned to the next four questions, I want you just to bear in mind that we really have to run across a series of different areas. The design of equipment, the manufacturing of the equipment, wholesalers, retailers, consumers, people from the recycling industry, people from the waste products industry, And we also have to, I think, if we're serious about this subject, come up with some concrete ideas about a research agenda for reducing the environmental impact. So if you're thinking about this subject and want to ask some questions or make some comments, and please do, bear in mind the variety of subjects we really need to cover. Now, I've forgotten the order. I think you, sir, were first.
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Norbert Schmidt: Yes, my name is Norbert Schmidt. I'm from the German Consumers Organization, IGED. And first I want to mention the disposables. When I first began vaping, 13 years ago, the real devices were very expensive. So first I bought a disposable as a proof of concept before I invest all the money in a real device. Okay, by today's standards, this would be pretty... on the level of today's disposals or below them. So they have a role to play for adult smokers as proof of concept, at least. For some it is a convenient thing, maybe, if they are enough for them. For the deposit system, in Germany we have a deposit system on bottles, multi-use glass bottles and single-use plastic bottles. It is well established and well accepted. system is that you bring back your bottle to any grocery store that sells them and you get your deposit from that store back. And some people don't want to bother with this and it has established on its own in the population that people put bottles, disposable or glass bottles, that they don't want their deposit back, besides regular trash bins and people with low income or lots of time. go around and collect them and get the deposits as a little bit of pocket money.
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Colin Mendelsohn: Yeah, can I just comment? I think they're both fantastic ideas. As a clinician, I see a lot of patients who start their vaping careers with illicit disposables, which are a bit dodgy, but then they come to me and they say, well, this is fantastic compared to smoking, but I want to move on to a regulated product. So I think as a way of, as a transition model, illicit disposables seem to have a, a great entry point into vaping and I would encourage people ultimately to move on to a pod model or something more complex or whatever works really, but a lot of them do move on. And secondly, I think the idea about Yeah, people collecting devices for pocket money is a great idea. I mean, the vapes themselves may not bother, just one or two at a time, but if people go around to bins and streets and pick these devices up and get rewarded for it, that certainly seems to work with metal drink bottles and other bottles in certain jurisdictions. I think it's a great idea.
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Bengt Wiberg: Yeah.
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Alex Wodak: Thank you, sir.
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Charles Hamshaw-Thomas: Charles Hamshaw-Thomas, Do you think manufacturers and retailers are doing enough to help the users? And I'm not just meaning about responsible disposal, but encouraging, incentivizing users to move on to other products that are more environmentally friendly and sustainable, providing information on responsible vaping, any number of things. And can I ask one other ancillary question? Isn't there a finite limit in the world's lithium ion And we're not mentioning the word sustainability, but how sustainable are these products?
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Alex Wodak: I'll start to give a very limited answer to your first question about manufacturing where, and Peter knows more about this subject than I will ever know, but the manufacturing of vaping equipment is very highly concentrated. 90% of vaping devices are made in China, 90% of the vaping devices that are made in China are made in one province in Shenzhen. So I can't really answer whether or not they're doing enough, but we're fortunate in that that concentration provides a relative advantage for us in trying to influence them. They're in China, admittedly a difficult country to work in, particularly now, but Peter, maybe you'd like to comment.
00:41:43 --> 00:44:58
Pieter Vorster: I think I'll restrict my answer to, you know, are they doing enough to transition people? I'm not going to go there, but I think I'll answer the question, are they doing enough to educate consumers about what to actually do with these products? And if you, you know, regardless of where they are manufactured, if you go and look at any product available, for example, in the UK, if you bother to read the package insert, you will find that there is recycling information and stuff that you're meant to do it. Do people ever read that? No. I went and bought a few products just to see whether it is actually there or not, but I've used plenty of those before and I've never bothered to read the package inserts, so people don't read those. If you go to the company's websites, you will also see some are easier to find than others, but you can find the information, but it is not in your face. So I think, does the industry do enough? On that front, probably no. I think there could be a lot more upfront education to consumers as to what to actually do with these products. But it gets back to the point about youth again. Certainly kids who are buying this to go to a party are not going to read any package insert and they're not going to bother about that. I think your other question was? I mean, ultimately, given the way the automotive industry, et cetera, is going and the world is going, that is going to become increasingly a bigger issue. Are there better solutions at the moment? Probably not. I think the broader answer is a lot of it. I think the initial attention of the industry and whoever designed these products was not thinking about sustainability necessarily. It is more about getting the best consumer product out there. This is now becoming a really big potential problem for the industry, and therefore it needs to be an industry solution. And it is a somewhat more complex industry solution than, say, Nespresso, because Nespresso had a virtual monopoly in that. It's easy for them to do it. I'm not saying it's easy to do, but it's much easier when you are the dominant manufacturer of that type of product. There are a lot of different people here who need to work together, and ultimately it needs to be an industry solution and perhaps there needs to be a lot more creativity applied to the problem because if it's not solved, it will pose a serious threat to the whole tobacco harm reduction movement.
00:45:00 --> 00:45:46
Alex Wodak: I'll just make a brief comment to say that large deposits of lithium have recently been identified in South America, I think Bolivia, and also in the United States. And also to comment that there's been some early work on alternatives to lithium batteries in the form of batteries requiring sodium chloride, which of course is plentiful on the planet. And there's a lot more work to be done before that becomes viable for everyday use. But I think we're seeing that lithium is not going to be, shortage of lithium is not going to be the problem that it is at the moment. Let's go on.
00:45:52 --> 00:47:35
Roberto Sussmann: Roberto Sussmann from Mexico. Most of what I wanted to say have been already said, so I'm going to be very brief. Industry solution. Industry needs profit, and industry also produces technological development, whether in China or other industries. why not create a new class of devices called the returnables to compete with the disposables, right? But it's not only, technically, you would use the device and come to a place where they can refill it. It's going on with refreshments, for example, And it can work if it is well structured. If I am a user of one of these devices and I have to walk two miles in the snow or two miles in the sun to get it refilled, then I will not use it. But if in every corner or in every shop there is a possibility to refill it, And if there is sufficiently good marketing, and of course we also need regulators agreeing, et cetera, this can be a category that can really fight against the disposables. And it will reduce the waste and will educate people to use a device and just refill it, refill it. I'm not saying it's a magical solution. But it's a possible solution for this problem.
00:47:35 --> 00:47:40
Alex Wodak: Thank you, Roberto. Down the back, the gentleman with his hand up. Can I just comment on that?
00:47:40 --> 00:47:57
Colin Mendelsohn: Yes. Roberto, I would have thought that technology is already available as refillables and refillable pod models. Why can't people... Why can't we encourage people to transition to those models from... Yeah, but what I mean is you would not have to buy a cartridge.
00:47:57 --> 00:48:06
Roberto Sussmann: Just go to a store, We cannot divide a country when it already exists.
00:48:09 --> 00:48:33
Alex Wodak: I don't know whether people heard Roberto's response to Colin, but Roberto is saying that why not have refillable models that can be filled up in the store that don't require any more device. Down the back, sir. Next to you. Sorry, the men in the pale green shirt. Oh, we're together. Oh, OK.
00:48:35 --> 00:49:52
Jason Tian: Jason Tian, a Two First, from Two First, a e-cigarette media from China. So, Mr. Waldock has mentioned that 90% of the vaping devices are manufactured in China, and so we are, you know, we are also headquartered in China. We've also interviewed the manufacturers, and we talked, we asked them about the, you know, recycling solutions. They do have actually a lot of solutions in their head, But then they kick the problem to say it's their customers. What do they want, right? What is right for their country? And then we also interview brands as well as local distributors. They also kick the problem to the government. What does the government require of them? What is the requirement that the government has standardized? And then when we ask the example MHRA from UK, We ask them like, what's their solution? Then they kick the problem to another department. So it seems to be like this recycling solution is kicking down the problem. Is there a way that we can, do you have a suggestion or an idea to tackle it at the whole industry as a whole? Because it seems to be like this cycle of kicking down the problem is just not connecting.
00:49:54 --> 00:51:00
Alex Wodak: Well, thank you for your comment. Very helpful comment. To answer your question, yes, I do have an answer. And my answer would be the establishment of an organization, an international organization, with representatives from all of those fields that I mentioned before. Design, manufacturing, et cetera, et cetera. Consumers have to be there as well. Wholesalers, retailers. working together to try and address the very important problems that we're talking about, because it doesn't matter which field of endeavor we are in, we have to reduce the spoiling of our planet, which is reaching very dangerous proportions. So I think working together, there's no alternative to that, and we have to have each of the various interest groups, stakeholders, join in that effort. But thank you for the comment. I think the lady in the red and orange is holding her hand up. Thank you.
00:51:00 --> 00:54:10
Attendee: Okay, thank you very much. My name is Helen Fadibe. I'm from the United Kingdom. I'm not from this industry, I'm a town planner by profession, and so my interest in this particular session is looking at the land use and how it impacts on the environment. And I'd like to start by thanking Martin for sharing your experience of what you are doing at Espresso. I would like to point out that in the United Kingdom, There is active recycling of printer cartridges, water cartridges, batteries, and that's because in most supermarkets, there are places you can drop those items off. And so householders would often take items to those supermarkets. I also appreciate the mobility of e-cigarettes, as one of the gentlemen over there mentioned. And from a land use perspective, most young people are those who tend to use the e-cigarettes. And they often congregate in public spaces, in parks, open spaces. And often these are the places you would find the empty refills and all of that. What I'd like to ask is that even as it starts, we could begin to map out where are we finding large waste. Because it's not, yes, it might be that people throw it on the streets and those are picked up, but there are some areas or neighborhoods where young people tend to gather to vape, where you find such things. What are we doing to introduce beans or recycling items that they could actually throw those in. The last thing I'd like to say on this subject, because I've got quite a lot, but I know that time won't permit me, is that if we go back to the issue of the polluter pays, so that's the polluter pays principle. Then, from manufacturer to the users, there should be additional tax, landfill tax, because unless an item becomes more expensive or you find innovative ways to make it to be easily recyclable, then the best thing is to find ways whereby the polluter pays, because at the end of the day, this is going to cause harm to every single individual on the planet. on the face of the planet. So it's quite important for us to go back to those who manufacture it and put a tax on that particular product. So that would be for us to find more inventive ways to make it less harmful. So thank you very much and hopefully some solutions will be found. Thank you.
00:54:10 --> 00:54:13
Alex Wodak: Thank you. Thank you for those helpful comments. Down the back, please.
00:54:17 --> 00:55:15
Carolyn Beaumont: Hello, Carolyn Beaumont from Australia and I follow on directly just from the previous question actually in terms of there'll be littering everywhere but we need to focus on the areas where there's the most littering. So young people, music festivals, I was talking to a friend recently, she works at a cleaner at the festival, somewhere in a country town in Australia, and absolutely littered with vapes. So I can imagine a fairly simple solution just with, as the previous speaker was saying, some large bins. At least if we can get the vapes to the area, then we might be able to work out what to do with it. Other areas with huge amounts of littering, sports matches, casinos, for example. So three big areas that we might be able to just target in a practical sense.
00:55:15 --> 00:55:32
Alex Wodak: Thank you very much. There's a question here on the device from Kamala and Nkwinto, and I'm not sure if you've already asked a question, but if they're not interested, how can we encourage them?
00:55:37 --> 00:57:09
David Burns: Just a couple of points, a comment on the bins that you mentioned are located in stores for batteries. In Australia, and probably a lot of countries will have a similar program, in Australia it's called the B-cycle program, so the Battery Stewardship Council, which has been set up to govern the recycling of batteries and requires the importers of batteries to pay a tariff at the border so that they can pay for the recycling and that whole process. So in Australia there's about 3,000 bins for batteries and similar for printer cartridges have a similar scheme. And we've had discussions with the battery stewardship council and the B-cycle scheme to attempt to have vapes included in that program. and to try and figure out how we can have importers and manufacturers pay for that, but of course that takes some time. What's actually happening in Australia is a lot of people who are, I don't know how they're figuring it out, but they're putting the devices in the bins, these battery bins, that are then making their way to the recycler and the recycler is having to cover the costs of recycling the vape products, which of course for them there's an incentive to try and solve that. So the idea of having bins everywhere is very important. It's probably the first thing that should happen. The question is, you know, how is that paid for? Just to give an example, in Australia, it costs about $4.50 Australian to recycle one kilo of disposable devices. It could be different in your country. But it's the cost of who pays for it and how you arrange that and organize it.
00:57:10 --> 00:57:34
Alex Wodak: I understand that New Zealand does have some lessons to teach Australia, that's not hard. Anyone here from New Zealand who knows how the recycling system works in New Zealand? We have to not only learn from bad examples like Australia, but also from good examples, and New Zealand's one of them. doesn't look like it.
00:57:34 --> 00:58:03
Colin Mendelsohn: Can I just say that Vapo did set up a small recycling program which was based on, Vapo is one of the manufacturing companies, which was based on postal returns. So people ordered and had a post bag and they returned small numbers of devices for recycling but the actual uptake it was very small and I don't think it's been very successful although it was a first step towards developing a more sustainable model.
00:58:05 --> 00:58:28
Alex Wodak: And we heard recently, Colin and I heard recently from people involved in the area that it took 11 years for the bottle recycling system in Australia to reach a satisfactory level. So I hope we can proceed a lot faster in this area.
00:58:28 --> 00:59:21
Martin Steinbauer: And especially for bottle deposit schemes and Doing the same thing for the vaporizer industry as well. I think the more automation we can have in this entire process, the better. Because if you have, for instance, a $0.10 deposit scheme where you get $0.10 when you bring it back to the store, the store clerk presumably doesn't want to bother with the $0.10. And we do need to find a way to really automate that. One of the things that we do in the US, we have an NFC-enabled vaporizer, mostly for the purpose of unlocking it at the point of sale for youth access restriction. But one of the things we have thought about that we have implemented is actually using the same system to allow people to return it, scan it, and then get the deposit back once that's implemented. So the more friction we can take away from the process, the better, both for end consumers, for stores, and so forth.
00:59:21 --> 00:59:24
Alex Wodak: Thank you. A question over here, this gentleman.
00:59:28 --> 01:01:31
John Summers: Hi, thank you. It's John Summers from the UK. I'm a consumer advocate. I want to harken back to something that Jeannie raised about the limits on tank sizes and pod sizes. And not just sizes, but also strengths. Part of the problem that we've got here is actually related to legislative misadventure. The imposition of size limits, volume limits, strength limits, based on bad science, that was really only ever intended to make the industry difficult, to make things hard. If you've got, as Jeannie said, a larger tank, higher strength level, you require less products. It would mean that disposables are disposed of less frequently. In fact, it would probably mean that things like pod products would actually become more viable The smokers that I work with voluntarily find that an awful lot of the disposable products and an awful lot of the pod products just don't cut it because they don't deliver enough of a hit. This stuff was kind of intended in legislation. There needs to be more pushback on things like the TPD and saying, look, actually, what you're doing is wrong. And that's not just from the device perspective. The vaping industry, going back pre-TPD-2, was moving very much towards recyclable packaging, glass bottles, larger volumes. The TPD introduced a 10 mil size limit. So now, instead of having one 100 mil bottle or one 50 mil bottle, you're now transporting five or 10 or more little plastic bottles that get thrown away. So actually, you know, What do we do about the fact that legislation is actually making this situation worse?
01:01:31 --> 01:01:39
Alex Wodak: Good question. Thank you. Who would like to answer what do we do when legislation actually makes the situation worse?
01:01:41 --> 01:02:19
Colin Mendelsohn: I thought they were looking at changing that. I know in New Zealand they've set an 1800 milligram bottle size, so that's say 36 mils of 50 milligram per mil, or obviously much bigger bottles of a lower concentration, so there is some compromise, some sweet spot set there, but my understanding is in The UK, at least, they're looking at making changes now that they're after Brexit, so common sense will hopefully prevail. But those decisions were quite arbitrary and they're clearly quite destructive as far as the environment's concerned.
01:02:19 --> 01:02:21
Alex Wodak: Now, we've got a question over here.
01:02:21 --> 01:03:36
Alexandro Lucian: Hello, my name is Alexandro. I'm from Brazil. I'm also president of Jireta and a journalist and activist for vaping since I quit smoking in 2015. Thanks to vaping I think it saved my life. So I watched along the years a switch between consumers using vaping devices like mods and external batteries and atomizers to disposables and pod systems. I would like to know from you, from the panel, your opinion about who dictates the market. Is China making those products and changing the way the consumers use those products? Or are the consumers wanting these products? Because in Brazil, despite the prohibition of sales, we've got millions of people using. And I often see people complaining about not having those products anymore, like atomizers and low nicotine concentrations. And only disposables with high amounts of nicks salts. So I'd like to know if, what do you think about this switch in the market? Who dictates that? Thank you.
01:03:38 --> 01:05:21
Pieter Vorster: I think ultimately the consumer dictates that the industry consistently tries to find products that more and more people want to use. And why do people want to use it? Its ease of use, its sensory delivery, the taste. For example, The disposables we get today deliver a very consistent flavor, no spitting or, you know, sort of liquid in your mouth, et cetera, over the entire life of that disposable vape. So sort of coming back to the point about refilling, if it can be refilled in the same way, that is something that would be desirable to consumers. So it's easy. The delivery is good. ultimately is the consumer, but the industry drives it because they continuously seek for the next best product that consumers are going to buy rather than from their competitors. And that, to some extent, also brings the whole question of recycling into into the mix because if you have consumers demanding that these products are so that they say we don't want this and if there's sufficient education about the impact, that ultimately also drives it. If it becomes a desirable product quality that it is environmentally friendly, that drives the industry to look for ways to make it more acceptable.
01:05:24 --> 01:05:51
Colin Mendelsohn: I think in the early days, the mods and the more complex devices, there were a whole lot of enthusiasts who were very, that was a large part of the experience. And I think as the disposables have become more effective and so convenient and there's been more widespread uptake, I think it's a much larger number of people who are more interested in just an easy solution and don't want to go down that enthusiast path. So I really do think it's a market driving it myself.
01:05:53 --> 01:06:07
Alex Wodak: Okay, we've got one last two more comments. Please keep them quick because I want to give each of the members of the panel an opportunity to say some closing comments. Thank you. Start with you, madam.
01:06:09 --> 01:06:38
Alejandra Medina: Thank you. Alejandra Medina from Columbia. So you already talk about the disposals or the final in the value chains of the device. What about the extraction of materials and the impacts in the environmental about, yeah, design? And if you think there is near reality to think about circular economy or eco-design in electronic cigarettes? Thank you.
01:06:40 --> 01:07:51
Martin Steinbauer: I can take this one. And actually, the interesting thing that you mentioned here is the circular economy. One of the things that I wanted to mention here that we do is we use something called synthetic nicotine over tobacco-derived nicotine. You know, the tobacco industry ultimately emits 84 million metric tons of CO2 emissions a year, and 78% of that is just from the growing and the curing of tobacco. So a very large majority is just from the curing of tobacco, versus if you take that away, if you make nicotine in the laboratory under controlled pharmaceutical processes, you don't only get a better, more pure product, but also you really cut down on carbon emissions. And then if you do use tobacco-derived nicotine for one ton, if I have my statistics correct, Cured leaf, it actually costs 6 tons of CO2, and you only get 4% nicotine out of that 1 ton. So for literally a ton of nicotine to use in vapes, it's 150 tons of CO2, which is quite a lot. And that's one of the reasons why we do use synthetic nicotine for that very controlled, sustainable reason.
01:07:55 --> 01:08:49
John Summers: Hi, it's John again from the UK. Sorry, my elderly brain forgot that there was an aspect of the legislative piece that I'd forgotten to mention. The discussion earlier about how to teach people to transition from disposables to sustainable devices, tank-based devices, you're not allowed to. You're not allowed, the TPD prevents you advertising or promoting the use of a device in media. So an awful lot of the grassroots guys who used to do, you know, this is how you use this device. This is how you can, you know, recoil your device, you know, re-wick it, do all of those things. You're not allowed to do that. So again, it's negative regulatory impact on the environment.
01:08:53 --> 01:09:02
Alex Wodak: I'll ask you to hold it at that because we do want to get some concluding comments from the panel. We'll start off with Peter and we'll just work our way across.
01:09:02 --> 01:11:20
Pieter Vorster: Thank you, Alex. I want to sort of just bring it back to some of the points I have raised, and I think the first one is that ultimately it is an industry problem, and I think I agree with Alex that there needs to be a a process driven by industry to find a solution and you can't look to government or regulators to solve this because the survival of the industry, and I'm not ignoring the environmental impact, but I think it comes back to the industry will not survive if the environmental issues are not addressed. The second issue is the whole issue of youth access to these products. That is a very emotive issue, and as soon as the youth becomes involved, turns rational people into completely irrational people overnight, and we are seeing this in the UK, for example, and that when you look at the environmental impacts, I think those are the consumers who are least likely to to dispose of these products responsibly. So I think there's a dual issue there. And I think the industry can also work to, as we are seeing in the UK, the industry body's pushing for really high fines. disincentivize retailers to sell to kids. And finally, I think there is now becoming a really significant incentive for the industry to come up with new technological solutions for these things, and that's something that's not up to now really been focused on. The focus has been on the, you know, what makes the product perform better. And I think there is certainly a building incentive for the industry to find technological solutions to the environmental concerns.
01:11:24 --> 01:12:28
Colin Mendelsohn: Yeah, look, I feel we can find a solution to this. I don't agree with Alex. It should be international. I think it should be at a national level. And I do think that it does need some government involvement. I think if you leave it to industry, without mandatory regulations, unfortunately we'd don't always get cooperation, there will always be those players who won't participate. So I think a combination of government and industry working together with the retailers and educating and incentivising consumers and the manufacturers producing products that are more biodegradable and more recyclable. I think with all of that, with goodwill, we should be able to achieve our goals. I think we have to do this partly because to protect the planet but also because this is going to be used as a weapon against vaping and we have to find a solution or it will be weaponised to undermine this life-saving product.
01:12:30 --> 01:13:25
Alex Wodak: I'll just make a brief final comment, and that is to say that I've been traveling around Europe on my way to this meeting in Warsaw, and I've noticed more and more, especially in Budapest where I've just come from, Looking down at the footpath, not only do we see in Budapest lots of cigarette butts, but we see lots of the residues from the heated tobacco products, especially looks to me like lots of discarded heats from the ICOS system. So I think this subject has to embrace other tobacco harm reduction products apart from vaping. Of course, vaping is a particular need for discussion, but we also need to cover the whole area, including cigarettes themselves.
01:13:27 --> 01:14:02
David Burns: Yes, I just agree with what's been said. Obviously, from an environmental perspective, disposables are the biggest issue at present in relation to it. My feeling is that unless it gets resolved, it's a threat to the industry as it stands today. There's no two ways about it. It is being weaponized. There's a very strong case against disposables. And like the rest of the group have said, I think industry needs to be forefront of this because it's likely to affect the most, but it's going to require multiple stakeholders, government and whatnot to be able to address it.
01:14:02 --> 01:14:06
Alex Wodak: Martin?
01:14:06 --> 01:14:45
Martin Steinbauer: Yes, and so I agree with that as well. I don't think there's a silver bullet here, one solution that solves it all. I think it's many different stakeholders coming together and, you know, A, understanding what the problem is through research, especially on the carbon emission front of all the different types of ends, comparing them to cigarettes and so forth. And then B, studying human behaviors and how we really, you know, get humans incentivized to bring back these products and us manufacturers, you know, upcycling them, reusing them, at least doing some carbon capturing here in order to be a long-term sustainable, you know, industry. So lots more work to do, but also lots of research.
01:14:46 --> 01:14:58
Alex Wodak: Please thank all the members of the panel. Please thank all the people who asked questions. And please thank all the people who didn't ask questions.