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The UK government has recently taken a strong stance on the sale and distribution of NoS canisters, suggesting a ban on these products nationwide. This decision was made after careful consideration of the dangerous implications associated with using these products and the difficulty associated with recycling them.

The recent decision by the government to ban NoS canisters has caused quite a stir. It’s interesting to note that this move has come just a week after our report highlighted the impact of Nitrous Oxide on London. It’s a topic that’s been receiving national attention, and it’s clear that the resource we provided has had a noteworthy impact on the issue.

NoS canisters, also known as ‘laughing gas’ or nitrous oxide, have gained popularity among young people in recent years for their euphoric effects. However, the risks associated with their use cannot be ignored. The government hopes this ban will deter young people from using these products, reducing the accidents and fatalities associated with their use. While this decision has been met with some criticism, it is ultimately an essential step towards protecting the health and safety of British citizens.

Nitrous Oxide: What is it, and why would the UK ban ‘laughing gas’?

The growing trend of nitrous oxide (NoS) misuse has been widely reported and can be easily recognised by looking at our streets. For years, small silver canisters have filled our pavements and parks. In recent times larger canisters have gained popularity amongst users, clearly showing the scope and scale of this epidemic. Intended for use in high-end kitchens to create culinary delights, this repurposing as a powerful hallucinogenic serves as a chilling reminder of the impact of the epidemic on our City. While ‘hippy crack’ has become embedded in the discourse surrounding the drug misuse phenomenon that has taken over London’s streets, its effects on our young people cannot be ignored; with individual health significantly impaired from inhaling such potent gases.

The impact of ‘Nitrous Oxide’ canisters on London Waste Management

The canisters cannot be recycled using traditional methods and must instead be individually sorted and sent to bespoke recycling centres; this is very different to other materials sent to our facilities. The volume can be seen in our waste facility. The unique handling process for these items has cost us over £100,000 in just nine months. Not only this, but the compressed cylinders can be hazardous to our staff, and when the material is crushed, it can explode if there is any gas left, increasing the risk of injury. Fortunately, through recycling programs, we can responsibly dispose of these canisters and do our part for the planet.

The Ban of NoS canisters in the UK

In the wake of our newly released report on the dangers of ‘laughing gas’ canisters in the UK, the government has taken swift action to ban the NoS canister’s for recreational use. The report has shed light on the negative behavioural changes induced by the canisters and the challenges their disposal poses. As London’s leading waste management company, we are dedicated to responsible environmental practices.

The number of pressurised nitrous oxide canisters has drastically increased over the past two years, reaching a record high. Our facility noticed an immense surge in the summer months this year compared to last year, collecting a total of 16,499 large canisters between March and November. We believe this increase is directly linked to the summer season and the warm weather, which encourages more people to find reasons to socialise and use these products. Historically, drug use peaks during the summer months. According to a recent study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), figures suggest that first-time drug use is even more common during the summertime than established drug use.

We take great care in monitoring the number of canisters that reach our facility so that we are aware of any changes which may affect London in any way.

As part of our responsible waste management, we have closely tracked canister-based items in our facilities since March 2022. We believe that the notable increase in these items detected since January/February of the same year is connected to a broader concept of ‘freedom to throw’. This far-reaching freedom has allowed irresponsible disposal tactics to manifest and create a more significant social problem. To tackle this, we inform local councils and encourage them to spread the word amongst their constituents on the proper ways to discard waste.

Our recent report on the impact of Nitrous Oxide in London has proved to be monumental in raising awareness about this dangerous gas. The fact that our findings were picked up by the Evening Standard and other national news outlets only serves to highlight the significance of this issue. It’s no secret that Nitrous Oxide poses a serious threat to our city, and it’s vital that we take steps to combat its use. We are proud to have played a role in bringing this problem to the forefront of public attention, and we hope that our report will help to bring about positive change in London.

Our Green Team also provides training for organisations to help them reach their recycling and sustainability targets. Click here to find our more.


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