How to dispose of vaping products properly and safely

The rise of vaping use and the harmful environmental effects of nicotine waste

With the booming vaping industry comes concerns about e-cigarette disposal. Given that vape manufacturers don’t openly advertise or share how to dispose of vapes and pods, do people know how or where to throw away a used disposable vape or pod?

Well, a survey by the Truth Initiative suggests that “more than half (51 percent) of young vape users said they discard used vape tubes or empty disposables” and “almost half (49.1 percent) of young people do not know what to do with used e-cigarette tubes and disposable devices.”

What might be overlooked in this case is the environmental impact of e-cigarette disposal, especially given the cultural phenomenon that e-cigarettes have become in recent years.

E-cigarette use has been a booming market since the early 2010s, as statistics show that Canadian e-cigarette sales have nearly tripled since 2014. Revenue was 1.26B 47B in 2022. Canada is also the world’s third largest contributor to the e-cigarette market.

And despite restrictions on the sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes in Canada, a study by the School of Public Health & Health Systems at the University of Waterloo, Ontario, suggests there is an increase in smokers and non-smokers trying e-cigarettes and the The percentage of non-smokers who try e-cigarettes has almost doubled, according to a 2012 Canadian survey.

With the rise in vaping use, millions of disposable vapes are ending up in landfills despite containing metals like lithium that are often used in batteries.

Vapor devices often consist of lithium-ion batteries, which can also be used in phone batteries and electric car batteries. And when thrown away as single-use or non-reusable items, they become waste that could have been recycled into phone or electric vehicle batteries.

Not only is it wasteful to dispose of vape products without recycling, they also harm the environment.

A study by environmental philosopher Yogi Hendlin states that “high levels of nicotine and e-waste residue pose a biohazard hazard, and the hard plastics, lithium-ion batteries and electronic circuit boards need to be dismantled, sorted and further recycled and disposed of. When discarded or improperly disposed of, broken devices can release heavy metals (including mercury, lead and bromine), battery acid and nicotine into the local environment and cityscape, harming humans and other organisms.”

The Truth Initiative suggested in its report that vape companies should be held accountable and that they should adopt a standardized process for the disposal of vape devices, refills and e-liquid.

A vape shop in Sudbury has already started a local initiative to collect and recycle disposable vapes and e-cigarette tubes. The vape recycling program started around 18 months ago at the North 49 Vape Store Sudbury when the manager realized the waste of buying and consuming disposable vapes.

“I think the main reason was that I got tired of picking up capsules and disposables from the parking lot and people treat them like they’re the new cigarette butts,” said Greg Steele, manager of the vape store. “We built this program where people can bring their single-use items and throw them in the recycling bin, and we have little tabs where they can put their name and phone number.”

From there, the folks who bring in their used pods and disposable vapes enter a raffle that takes place weekly at the vape store to potentially win some items.

“And we’re giving them refillable devices that are more environmentally friendly than disposables, t-shirts, hats and the like,” Steele said.

The shop then delivers them to either a battery recycling agency in Sudbury or the city’s hazardous waste disposal service, where they are properly and safely dismantled and recycled.

“What I would really like to do is change people’s habits of just throwing a capsule or a disposable product on the floor. I want to encourage them to bring it back[to the store],” Steele said.

To properly recycle and dispose of vapes and pods, they can be taken to North 49, but there are other ways to safely recycle e-cigarettes. They can be recycled through the city’s Household Hazardous Waste Depot at 1853 Frobisher Street. The city confirmed via email that they are in the process of adding e-cigarettes to the Waste Wise app, an app that educates people on how to properly dispose of different types of waste.

They can also be disposed of at home if done properly and safely. Battery removal can be dangerous and urges viewers to wear proper safety gear and exercise caution. If in doubt, consult a professional. Watch’s TikTok tutorial on how to recycle vapes from home here. The short tutorial was linked from this video here.

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