Vape pens also known as e-cigarettes have become very popular. Created in 2003, these small electrical devices heat liquid to become vapour. Using different flavours mixed with nicotine, they are the new alternative to traditional cigarettes.
There are many issues with vape pens and everything that goes with them. Millions if not billions of vape paraphernalia is discarded every year. And unfortunately careless disposal causes a real impact to the environment.
Can I put a vape in the bin?
Sort answer, no! You should never put your vape pen directly into the general waste bin. Vapes contain multiple materials and chemicals which need to be disposed of independently. They contain hazardous waste such as batteries and nicotine. These must be disposed of correctly as the chemicals inside can contaminate landfill. Lithium ion batteries, often used in vapes, have previously been linked to causing explosions at recycling centres. This happens when they have not been segregated correctly.
Disposing of an old vape
Vapes are not built with recyclability or disposability in mind. And they are in fact very hard to dispose of, if you want to do so correctly. Vape paraphernalia is being inappropriately disposed of, potentially in its million, every day. Correct disposal of a vape means taking the time to considerately recycle each part separately.
How to dismantle and recycling a vape?
There are multiple types of vape pen. But all use a relatively comparable system with similar components. Here is a basic way to break down your vape device for recycling.
- Take out the battery - Do this first to avoid any chance of the vape activating. Then check out How to dispose of vape batteries
- Remove the cartridge, pod or tank - These are the most awkward part to dispose of. Yet are the most frequent part to be discarded. They can contain hazardous chemicals such as nicotine. So it will be dependent on their use. Vessels without nicotine can simply be rinsed out with water. Usually made of plastic these can then be recycled as normal, just check for the recycle symbol. If not they will need to go in the general waste bin. Vessels with nicotine need to be treated with caution, as nicotine is a hazardous chemical. You must dispose of the nicotine and contaminated cartridge by taking it to your nearest hazardous waste disposal or recycling centre. You can either take the cartridge as is; or carefully rinse it out. If rinsing, you will need to collect the waste nicotine water and dispose of that as hazardous waste. Then you can recycle the cartridge as normal. You must not rinse nicotine down the drain.
- Take out metal components - This includes the atomizer, coils, charging ports and computer chips. Depending on the type of vape you have, it may contain some or all of these components. Once disassembled they can be taken to a recycling centre.
- Remaining outer casing - This is usually made from plastic. Check to see if it has the recycle logo. Then pop it in your curb side recycling bins or take to your local recycling centre.
Warning: Take care when dismantling your vape pen. It will contain sharp components and hazardous liquids.
Negative effects of vaping on the environment
Vaping has a clear negative impact on the environment; whether it's from the production, use or disposal of these products. Every element contributes to harming the planet. There is an argument for vaping being better than smoking normal cigarettes. However e-cigarettes have been around for a fraction of the time. And therefore their impact has still to be fully measured. The lack of recycling ability and knowledge for people that vape is highly irresponsible. Companies producing and selling vape paraphernalia need to be held accountable. And find ways to reduce the waste their products produce.
Vapes are clearly a big problem when it comes to the environment. Being able to dispose of or recycle a vape correctly seems to be a nearly impossible task. Or at least one that will take up a lot of your time. Giving up Vaping is by far the best option; but of course easier said than done. If you do vape, just be mindful of the harm it can cause to the planet. And try to do as much as you can to lessen your impact.
Also check out Where can I dispose of a disposable vape