Recover launches nationwide vape collection scheme with ElfbarJuly 28, 2023
Casestudy: Recover’s work with ElfbarNovember 9, 2023
The disposable vape (e-cigarette) industry is rapidly expanding in the UK, with its market worth nearing the £1 billion mark. The ubiquity of vape shops and the diverse options of e-cigarettes available can’t be missed. Yet, despite its popularity, vaping is still relatively new and raises various questions from health impacts to environmental concerns.
While we’re not health or advertising experts, our skill lies in vape waste management, and we can offer insights into the proper disposal of vaping devices. The environment can be significantly affected by the composition of vapes, their production process, and the disposal methods adopted by consumers and businesses.
Disposing of vapes correctly is nuanced and depends on the device’s type, brand, and whether a consumer or a business is discarding it. Follow our guidelines to understand the safest and most sustainable ways to dispose of or recycle your vaping devices.
Recover works with the biggest brands in the disposable vape space, namely Elfbar and Crystal as well as the NHS.
Eco-Conscious Vape Disposal Facts
It’s crucial to discard vapes in an eco-conscious manner to safeguard our planet, decrease landfill volumes, and mitigate the risk of environmental contamination. Here are some eye-opening statistics regarding the disposal of vapes that underscore the magnitude of the issue:
- Annually, the UK market sees the sale of approximately 138 million single-use vapes. In a given week, Britons discard roughly 3 million disposable vapes, which amounts to over 5.4 million per month.
- Nearly 37% of vape users opt for single-use devices, and over half of these are tossed into the trash.
- Each month, 6 million rechargeable vaping devices reach the end of their life cycle in the UK.
- When purchasing a new device, around 23% of consumers opt to recycle their old vapes in the store, and nearly 20% choose to do so at community waste recycling centers.
- Each year, the number of disposable vapes thrown into landfills occupies space exceeding 1.4 million square feet – that’s more than 11 times the size of London’s Trafalgar Square.
- From November 2021 to November 2022, the usage of single-use vapes surged by a staggering 600%.
- Annually, 23 tonnes of lithium from discarded disposable vapes are wasted, which is sufficient to power nearly 2,884 electric vehicles. In the UK, the production process of disposable vapes contributes approximately 59,650 tonnes of carbon emissions to the atmosphere every year.
- On a global scale, the production of single-use vapes is responsible for the emission of close to 9 million tonnes of CO2. However, compared to vaping, cigarette consumption has an even more detrimental impact on the environment.
- Cigarettes are still worse for the environment – The global tobacco industry consumes 600 million trees, utilizes 200,000 hectares of land, and expends 22 billion tonnes of water annually, while emitting a whopping 84 million tonnes of CO2.
Different Types Of Vapes – The Diversity of Vaping Devices
The landscape of vaping began to change the market with the introduction of the first commercially successful e-cigarette in 2004, as reported by the National Library of Medicine. This innovation has sparked an expanding variety of vaping devices, each catering to different preferences:
- Vape Pens: These popular devices are characterised by their pen-like shape and come in both single-use formats and refillable units, depending on what the manufacturer offers.
- Pod Systems: Pod systems, also known as pod mods, consist of a rechargeable battery and a pod that can be replaced and refilled with vape juice.
- Box Mods: Among the larger devices in the vaping world, box mods feature external batteries and allow users to adjust the wattage and temperature. They are paired with refillable tanks for a customizable vaping experience.
- Disposable Vapes (E-Cigarettes): Available in a spectrum of sizes and flavors, these vapes are designed for convenience and are discarded after the pre-filled e-liquid is depleted or the battery is exhausted. Recover specialises in recycling these and currently runs a vape recycling scheme called Vape Drop.
As the industry evolves, manufacturers continue to introduce new models and are expected to provide clear guidelines for the responsible disposal of these products. Whether the device is designed for temporary use or constructed for longer-term application greatly influences the disposal method. Recover works along side manufacturers, distributors, retailers and consumers to ensure all issues are resolved in the disposal and recycling process.
How You Can Dispose of a Vape Properly
To discard a reusable vape, the most straightforward method is to bring it to a retail outlet that accepts old electronics for recycling. These stores often have an obligation to collect small-sized Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which includes vaping devices. By handing over your old vape to these shops, it ensures the device will be recycled in an environmentally friendly manner, sparing you the hassle and expense.
Recover works with partners across the UK to supply recycling bins, we will post a map soon to help you find your nearest bin.
Stores that sell electrical goods (such as e-cigarettes) and have an electronics sales area exceeding 400 square meters are mandated to accept back any ‘waste electrical and electronic equipment’ that is no smaller than 25cm on any side – a category that includes vape devices.
Initiatives like the one by ourselves (Recover) which has placed special bins for disposing of vapes in thousands of UK outlets, offer a convenient option. These receptacles welcome any brand of vape, irrespective of the purchase source, and they facilitate the free and secure disposal of the items before they are sent off for proper recycling.
Alternatively, for those inclined to take a hands-on approach, disassembling a reusable vape and recycling its individual components is another way to ensure an environmentally responsible disposal.
How to Recycling Your Disposable Vape Piece-By-Piece
Recycling vape devices, both reusable and refillable ones, is a feasible option. The most eco-friendly choice is to continue refilling and using the same device as long as possible. When a vape is beyond repair, the battery ceases to function, or it’s time for an upgrade, recycling becomes the next best solution.
Here’s how to recycle different components of vapes once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan:
Note: For disposable vapes, we do not recommend dismantling them, it is better to take the entire unit to an outlet that offers a recycling scheme.
Should your vape feature a detachable battery, it can be taken to any battery recycling station, which are frequently located in supermarkets. For vapes with non-removable batteries, these can often be dropped off at local household waste recycling centers (HWRCs) that handle WEEE waste, or they may be accepted back at various vape shops. BE CAREFUL Lithium batteries are susceptible to damage and thermal runaway can cause intense fires.
Pods and Tanks
First, disengage the pod, tank, or cartridge from the vape and clean it thoroughly to eliminate any remaining e-liquid. Glass components can be placed with glass recyclables, while plastic ones should be checked for the recycling symbol and number to confirm if they can be included in your home recycling collection or should be brought to an HWRC.
The majority of coils can be taken out of the pod or tank. If your device doesn’t allow for this, consult the recycling guidelines specific to your model. After removing the coil and separating any wicking material, cleanse it to remove leftover e-liquid. The metal coil can often be recycled with other metals and might be accepted in some household recycling bins.
These bottles are universally crafted from plastic. Rinse them out and verify if the plastic type is suitable for your home recycling container. If not, your local HWRC may accept that particular kind of plastic.
If you have kept the original packaging of your vape, it can typically be disposed of in your home recycling bin, provided it’s made of paper or cardboard. Always check for recycling symbols to confirm the correct disposal method.
Disposing of Single-Use Vapes
Single-use vapes require careful disposal once depleted. It is crucial not to discard a disposable vape in your regular trash due to the potential environmental hazards they pose. The batteries could release hazardous substances into the ground, and the lithium-ion batteries may present a fire hazard if they end up in landfills.
To dispose of a disposable vape safely, use designated vape disposal containers or take them back to a retail store that accepts them. Many stores that sell electrical and electronic items will take back used disposable vapes for proper recycling. Additionally, you can take them to most HWRCs, where they will be handled as WEEE waste.
If the battery is accessible and can be removed without too much difficulty, you should recycle it separately at a battery recycling facility, which you can often find in supermarkets. But due to the construction of many disposable vapes, separating the battery and other components can be a challenge. Therefore, it is recommended to use official recycling routes to ensure safe and responsible disposal.
What is in a disposable vape?
Disposable vapes contain the same components and materials as reusable vapes. They often have a smaller tank and battery, a cheaper plastic exterior, and parts that aren’t normally removable. What’s in a disposable vape is a:
- Plastic exterior
- Lithium-ion battery
- Small tank to store the e-liquid
- Cotton wick
- Metal coil
Where to dispose of Single-Use Vapes
To ensure eco-friendly disposal of used single-use vapes, you can consider the following options:
- Vape disposal bins: Search for vape shops equipped with dedicated disposal units designed for the collection and subsequent recycling of expended disposable vapes.
- Electronics retailers: Stores selling electronic products that occupy an area over 400 square meters are obligated to accept small waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), disposable vapes included, at no charge, regardless of their origin, to facilitate proper recycling.
- Local recycling facilities: Most community recycling centers offer designated WEEE collection points that accept disposable vapes. These centers help prevent the vapes from ending up in landfills by ensuring they are recycled appropriately.
How can businesses dispose of old vapes?
Businesses must arrange commercial waste collection of any old vapes they produce. This could be through customer returns, staff getting rid of old vapes, or any other means. Removal by licensed waste carriers and recycling is vital and a legal requirement. The easiest way to do this is with WEEE bins and collections.
At Recover, we can provide WEEE bins in a range of sizes to store old vapes safely on your premises. Then arrange collection on a schedule that suits you – either a one-off removal or regular collections. Licensed waste carriers remove your WEEE bins and ensure it’s recycled and disposed of responsibly.
How We Can Help
Our Disposable Vape
In response to the UK Government’s call for vaping brands to address the environmental impact of disposable vapes, Recover is taking action and offering businesses a disposable vape recycling solution.