I have seen a few articles and Social Media posts recently discussing if there is a Disposable Vape waste crisis?
I will start by putting my opinion on the line, I believe Disposables do have a place in the market for those who want to test out vaping or those who need a vape in a hurry.
For me they should just be transitional. Once you realise vaping is for you – it is in your own interest to switch to a device with swappable pods or refillable. It is cheaper, more environmentally friendly and you have so much more freedom with your choice of e-liquid too.
Anyway the issue of disposables is contentious, everyone who is aware of them has strong opinions in one way or another.
Apparently the battery waste from these devices could power 1,200 electric vehicles.
One person in particular Laura Young (Climate PHD Student) has been pretty outspoken on the issue and has been quoted in multiple articles plus has pushed the issue on her own social media.
— Laura Young (@LessWasteLaura) October 14, 2022
An article in the Express UK has even gone so far as to call for disposables to be banned due to the waste issue.
Thankfully in this article Laura clarified her comments…
“And the reason I say that is because there is an alternative – there are reusable vapes.
“I’m not trying to ban vaping, it’s about banning disposability. And I think that makes sense because it fits in with the circular economy we’re all trying to build. It fits in with avoiding single-use plastic, and with really avoiding waste.”
Laura states that she was finding more than 10 disposables a day discarded on the street when out walking.
Her tweet also mentioned KSB – which is Keep Scotland Beautiful – another site that has covered Laura and her campaign.
The article on the KSB website says it has also been working with ASH (Action on Smoking & Health) and MCS (Marine Conservation Society).
Apparently October 14th was International E-waste day which seems to have triggered this concern.
From some of the responses it sadly appears that disposable waste is giving vaping a bad name (as quite a few people predicted).
Disposable e-cigarettes are products designed exclusively for single use & the size of the market has increased during the last year – driven by popularity with younger people. We want the Scot Gov to review the environmental and health concerns and consider regulatory action https://t.co/1MNYLkedC6
— ASH Scotland (@ASHScotland) October 14, 2022
Let’s keep raising awareness for the issue of “disposable” vaping. We cannot let precious materials go to waste! Some thoughts from me, @recycleelectric and @markmiodownik in the @Daily_Express #BanDisposableVapes ❌💨 @Livstringer_ 📝https://t.co/tID2jJes5Y
— Laura Young (@LessWasteLaura) October 17, 2022
Another collection, this time on my way to the gym. 2 very burst batteries, plus 2 empty cases, and 2 intact ones. The yellow is even flashing! #BanDisposableVapes 💨❌ https://t.co/Fsk40qUQ9q pic.twitter.com/1VH0piwAr8
— Laura Young (@LessWasteLaura) October 5, 2022
Scott Butler highlights how single-use vape waste serves to illustrate the issue of #ewaste – “The million vapes thrown away every week equate to around 1,200 electric vehicles… One of the most critical raw materials in the world is being sold in a ‘disposable’ product”
— Recycle Your Electricals (@recycleelectric) October 11, 2022
A lot of people did predict that this would be the case when disposables first became popular.
Like I said above I think disposables have a place in the market – but they seem to attract controversy at every turn.
They are being blamed for encouraging young people to vape and now the waste issue.
I do agree more needs to be done regarding the waste these devices create – I have seen multiple cases of them lying around the ground when I am out walking the dog.
Who Is Responsible?
Should the companies who create the devices take responsibility, the retailers who sell them or is it down to the individual?
I often look around to see if there are any resources locally for disposal as I too own quite a few disposables (for review purposes).
My local council offers battery recycling which is collected with the general recycling – but specifies the batteries should be removed.
I doubt people will be wanting to rip them apart and wait 2 weeks for them to be collected. Also this practice could be dangerous if the battery decides to have a wobbly.
Some manufacturers are happy to take back used disposables, but few of these are actually on the smaller high street where people can just drop them in. It often involves postage which can be expensive and to be honest for some just a pain in the arse.
Riot for instance have a Riot Recycling scheme, their Q Bar is fully recyclable and there are other brands going down this route – which is a start.
But for someone walking down an average street – nowhere near a big city centre – what do you do? I live in a small town and have nowhere locally I can deposit used disposables unless I drive to the local tip or wait for the recycling collection.
Perhaps an incentive towards a free device for returned used devices would work?
Should the small retailers who often sell these devices have a recycling bank?
I don’t know right now what the answer is.
In the meantime there seems to be rucks of new disposables coming to the market, by “no name” companies from god knows where, so they are unlikely to care.
The larger brand names are happy to take part in recycling but again they are not on the street for people to just pop in and drop off their devices?