Are Disposable Vapes classed as hazardous waste?

disposable vape header

There has been a lot of negative press on Disposable Vapes since the popularity of them has skyrocketed in recent times. A lot of anti-vape campaigners are labelling them the main reason for the youth vaping numbers being so high across the world, as well as other reasons such as social pressure or social media having a heavy influence on them,  as well as the other problem with them being they cannot be recycled which means millions of them are going into landfill every single month, with the numbers rising higher and higher with every publication printed.

Recently, a technical note was written and released by a Recycling plant based in the UK regarding the topic of Disposable Vapes, with more insight given about the hazards of these being disposed and have called for restrictions to be imposed to stop the landfills becoming saturated with these devices. Let’s take a look in more detail…

What’s in a Disposable Vape?

The contents of each disposable vape is pretty much the same with every one, regardless of the manufacturer. They are;

– A plastic casing

– A coil and cotton wick

– A lithium-ion battery

– 1.3ml of vape juice (this does vary depending on manufacturer as disposables with more vape juice are available. The legal limit that can be included in a Disposable Vape is 2ml as per TPD Leglislations set out in 2016)

Once a disposable vape reaches the end of its life, from either the battery running flat, or the vape juice running out, it is then disposed of, hence the term “disposable vape” And these contents are the source of the problems.  Some disposable vapes are classed as “hazardous waste” which is where the problems start arising for the disposing of them.

woman holding multiple e cigs

Why can’t disposable vapes be recycled?

The reason disposable vapes cannot be recycled primarily comes down to the fact they contain a lithium ion battery. At recycling centres, most of the waste is shredded up and reused, and this is why disposable vapes cannot be included, as if a lithium-ion battery were to be shredded, this could cause a massive risk of combustion and also a huge fire risk also.

With these being unable to be recycled, they have to be put into general refuse instead, which means they go to landfill where it’s reported up to 1.5 million units a week are being put into landfill every single month.

And with the casing being made of single use plastic, they’re hugely damaging to the environment due to the fact that plastic can take up to 1000 years to compose. Adding such huge volumes of plastics to the already monstrous 14 million tonnes of waste already harming the environment just isn’t a good thing.

SWEEEP steps in

SWEEEP are a waste electrical and electronic recycling firm based in Kent, England and recently they have published a note highlighting that disposable vapes could be deemed as hazardous waste due to the presence of persistent organic pollutants.

The note they published showed that testing was done on these disposables with the presence of nicotine, as well as all the acids used to make nicotine salts being prominent. All of these chemicals are classed as “hazardous” and so is E-Liquid itself, which means these disposables could receive the same classification. However on further investigation, there wasn’t enough volume of e-liquid in a disposable for it to be classed as hazardous and this point was then discarded.

The main thing they found to be hazardous in a disposable vape was indeed the lithium-ion battery. These are widely recognized as a fire hazard as well as containing harmful and hazardous substances like strong alkalis. SWEEEP looked at the official List of Waste categories and even though they do contain hazardous components, they are not classed as hazardous…yet.

SWEEEP summarises their findings and concludes that any movement of waste e-cigarettes and should carry a consignment note signalling this.

What could potentially happen?

With these findings published by SWEEEP, there is a chance that the government may indeed interject on these now and class them as hazardous waste, especially with the components of the lithium-ion batteries being the primary hazard in a disposable vape.

If there was an intervention and the classification of these disposable vapes being changed, it could spell the end of them as we know it, with them not being able to be discarded in household waste like they currently are, instead having to be disposed of correctly with appropriate literature at local refuse centres, which would cause a definite decline in sales as this would not be convenient for people, which is one of the main selling points of Disposables is the convenience factor of them.

I think something does need to be done about the state of affairs when it comes to disposable vapes and the amount of waste they are creating. The environment is on wobbly legs as it is, with millions upon millions of tonnes of waste already building up with no way of combatting it, and adding in 5 million disposable vapes every single month definitely is not going to help matters.

If you use Disposable Vapes and are wanting to make a positive change towards the environment, then you should get a vape device that you can refill and try our incredible Vape Bar Salts range of e-liquids. These have been created by drawing inspiration from the flavours seen in Disposable Vapes, and we’ve put our own spin on them to make them as flavoursome and mouth-watering as possible! 

Leave a Reply