Vape/ Electronic cigarette Recycling
Vape e-waste has become a hugely talked about issue over the past few months and we've had a lot of enquiries. Here are a few points to explain how vapes are adding to the e-waste problem, and how vape producers and sellers can comply with their legal environmental obligations.
What makes the disposal of vapes such a significant concern?
● In the UK, we buy 500 million vapes a year and bin 156 million of them, equivalent to 3 million vapes binned every week. That includes single-use, rechargeable with a single-use chamber and rechargeable vapes. This is the equivalent of 22 football pitches worth of single use vapes ending up in landfills or incinerators.
● These vapes are crafted from some of the most valuable resources on Earth; Vape batteries contain lithium (vital component inside electric vehicle (EV) and energy storage batteries), aluminium, steel, copper, plastics which could be recycled, saving precious resources from being lost forever.
● The widespread littering of vapes can lead to environmental harm and put wildlife at risk. Harmful chemicals like battery acid, lithium, and nicotine can leak into the environment, posing a significant threat to nature.
● Vapes are considered hazardous waste due to safety concerns related to their lithium batteries, which can cause fires if damaged and improperly disposed of in general waste or recycling streams.
● Single-use vapes are often marketed as disposable, lacking proper communication or recycling options for the public.
● Instead of disposing of them in regular waste or household recycling bins, these vapes should be separately recycled.
● Companies involved in the production, import, distribution, and retail of single-use vapes must significantly enhance their efforts to fulfill their legal and financial obligations under UK waste electrical (WEEE) and portable battery regulations.
Who bears the responsibility ?
Disposable vapes fall under the category of Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) This means they should be recycled at recycling centers.
Vape Vape producers, importers and trade bodies have a legal responsibility to finance take-back of vapes for recycling.
Vendors of vaping products hold a legal obligation to accept customers' used vapes for recycling and to inform their clients about this service.
Vape users need to be aware that they should consistently recycle their vapes instead of disposing them in the rubbish bin.
Environment Agency update March 2023:Whole vapes should not be incinerated. They must be recycled.