Disposable Vapes – The Waste Industries Next Challenge

Over recent years the popularity of using Disposable Vapes has increased, and as a result there has been a spate of Health and Safety incidents within the Waste Industry including Fires in Vehicles and at Waste Management Facilities, this is due to the battery contained within vape.

Vapes, or e-cigarettes, have been increasing in use as people use them as an alternative to smoking, and it is estimated that 1.3Million are being discarded across the UK each week. Although they are classed as ‘disposable vapes’ unfortunately due to the complexity of the vape they are actually a complex waste stream to dispose of.

All vapes contain a battery, and may also contain nicotine chemicals, and are then encased in plastic and other materials. There is the potential for vapes to be damaged when thrown in the bin or during transportation. If damaged, the batteries can spark, potentially setting fire to any combustible materials within the waste receptacle or vehicle.

Ecofficiency would urge everyone to use rechargeable devices where possible and avoid the use of one-use disposable options as this reduces waste arisings and carbon emissions.

Recently a Nationwide Vape Recycling takeback scheme has been setup to allow retailers to offer an in-store drop off container, however it is acknowledged that businesses might need an option to allow for responsible disposal at the point of use. Ecofficiency are also able to provide an collection and processing option for this through our Technical Team 0800 030 5051 / technical@ecofficiency.co.uk

The recycling of Vapes annually could potentially save more than ten tonnes of lithium, which could then be recycled into other products, reducing the need for increased raw materials, as well as saving carbon emissions and reducing the potential health, safety and environmental risks on site.

The Environment Agency have stated that it is their intention to give Vapes their own product category moving forward due to the challenges posed by dismantling and recycling, and then the Vaping Industry will have to play their part in financing the collection and treatment of their products, but this will take time to pass through. We will keep this post updated as legislative updates are released.

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