There are two sides to vaping. The positive is that it has already helped millions of smokers quit with a similar alternative without thousands of dangerous chemicals that can cause serious illness. The negative side, which is often highlighted in the media, relates to the meteoric rise of disposable vapes and how they are often not recycled correctly.
This fear for the environment and the call for sustainability stretches even further to every accessory and component used in a vape kit, from tanks and e-liquid bottles to coils and pods.
On the back of the UKVIA’s (United Kingdom Vaping Industry Association) first Sustainability Week, which ran from the 16th of October to the 22nd of 2023, we highlight where to find your local vape recycling centre and why this is important.
Why Should You Recycle Your Vape?
The vaping industry has obviously grown exponentially over the past decade, with more and more people turning to this twice-as-effective replacement for cigarettes. Before disposable vapes, the only waste accounted for were batteries (which should be taken to a recycling centre or a local retailer), and plastic and metal materials.
However, this was far less because people wanted to save money and there was an element of intrigue too. In the past, building and perfecting the vape experience ended up creating a community of like-minded individuals pushing the boundaries, which urged manufacturers to innovate.
This in turn helped to usher in new technology and methods to quit smoking and reduce nicotine habits. But did brands like Geek Bar and Elf Bar take it one step too far, damaging the environment by mass producing products that are sometimes not clearly labelled how to recycle?
In a way, yes, when the disposable vape was introduced. As useful as it can be for beginners as an entry-level device, it’s been abused by corner shops and black-market deals which target youth vapers. A lack of educational materials on how to recycle vapes properly and the sheer volume of disposable e-cigarettes in circulation (millions each week) means something needs to be done, and fast.
Otherwise, we will see millions more batteries wasted, and plastic discarded in the wrong bins, finding its way into landfills.
Where Can You Recycle Vapes?
Despite the name ‘disposable vapes’ leading many to believe you can just throw the whole thing in the recycling bin and you’ve done your part, that couldn’t be further from the truth. As highlighted by the UKVIA’s new website for sustainable vaping, leave recycling disposable vapes and other parts you’re not sure about to the professionals.
Once you’ve collected all of the accessories and vape kits that need to be discarded (to save time and create less pollution we recommend collecting a few disposable vapes with each journey), head down to your local Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling centre and hand them in there.
The same applies to the accessories and components that are no longer in use and can be removed from the vape kit. Things like vape tanks, vape coils, refillable pods and empty e-liquid bottles should all be responsibly and sustainably recycled correctly.
Why it is Important to Take E-Cigarettes to Your Local Recycling Centre
The message is clear from the UK government – they want to stop smoking in its tracks and also youth vaping. E-cigarettes should only be used by adults as an alternative to smoking. Vaping is helping many to quit cigarettes, but also causing environmental issues.
With disposables in particular, it’s an intricate process to dismantle and recycle the product correctly, ready to be reused and reprocessed for something else. For instance, with lithium itself contained within batteries inside disposable vapes, the UK population wastes 10,000 tonnes of lithium annually by not taking it to a recycling centre!
Because each device is different, it’s very difficult to know where to dispose of e-cigarette components safely – not just for the individual or household but the environment too. For instance, there have been multiple stories of fires on landfill sites caused by batteries from vapes.
Therefore, it’s important all elements of the vape industry, from the manufacturers to the retailers, and particularly the consumer using the product, do their part for the planet and take their e-cigarette wastage to a suitable WEEE recycling centre.