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Are Disposable Vapes Bad for the Environment?

May 21, 2023

As vaping grows in popularity, so does the concern for its environmental impact. While disposable vapes are convenient, they aren’t without drawbacks.

Vaping devices produce three types of waste: plastic, hazardous and electronic. Learn how they affect the environment and how to dispose of them properly. 

How Do Disposable Vapes Affect the Environment?

Considering the increasing number of vape users, the concern for e-waste is growing yearly. E-waste in Canada has more than tripled in the last 20 years, which means handling and disposing of electronics safely is more important than ever. As mentioned, vapes generate multiple types of plastic, electronic and hazardous waste. 

Many vape products use plastic pods, but they can’t be easily recycled since they contain nicotine, which is hazardous. If discarded in the garbage or as litter, they can leak nicotine and other toxic chemicals that infect and kill wildlife. Even the most negligible amounts of nicotine are lethal to animals. 

When discarded, plastics from disposable vapes break down into smaller pieces called microplastics, which can pollute our oceans due to wind, storms, and water runoff. Eventually, they make their way into marine wildlife and our drinking water. Microplastics are becoming increasingly prevalent, and some researchers suggest humans may ingest about a credit card’s worth of microplastic per year. 

Batteries are another hazard to the environment. When they degrade, the chemicals leach into the environment. If they’re placed into trash receptacles, they pose a fire threat, especially if the battery is exposed to high heat or damaged. 

Improper nicotine disposal is also an issue. The chemicals can leak and accumulate in soil, animals, and aquatic ecosystems, resulting in contaminated foods and drinking water and posing environmental risks. 

How Long Do Disposable Vapes Take To Decompose?

Disposable vapes take a long time to decompose; therefore, it’s vital to dispose of the components properly to reduce their environmental impact. 

The plastics they contain are a substantial environmental concern since they don’t biodegrade like organic materials. Plastics are synthetic materials not found in nature, so they can’t be broken down into microorganisms like natural materials can. 

Generally, plastic components from vapes can take up to 450 years to decompose, while lithium-ion batteries take a few hundred years.

Are Disposable Vapes Recyclable?

Not all parts in vapes are recyclable. Generally, plastic components like the tank and mouthpiece are recyclable. Toxic metals and batteries can be recycled through an e-waste center that accepts those materials. 

Some components of the disposable vape aren’t recyclable, for example, the heating coil and the cotton wick. The cotton wick and heating element can be disposed of with regular household waste. However, it’s vital to ensure the heating element is cool and free from residue. 

Where Can You Recycle Disposable Vapes?

There are several places to recycle disposable vapes, such as refuse sites and some vaping manufacturers who will take back their used devices. 

To reduce the environmental impact of disposable vapes, the government also has paired up with TerraCycle to recycle used e-cigarettes. Consumers can enter this program and mail in their used devices or drop off their used vapes at specialty vape stores. TerraCycle works directly with the vaping industry to handle the recycling. 

Some neighbourhoods may have special collection events where residents drop off used electronics and batteries. 

How To Properly Dispose of Disposable Vapes

Once the e-juice is fully depleted and the battery runs out, it’s time to dispose of your disposable vape correctly. Some disposable vapes have a window to indicate whether e-liquid remains. 

You can sign up directly through the TerraCycle recycling program. If you decide to dispose of the parts yourself, you’ll need to disassemble the device.

You’ll need to remove the battery and recycle it separately. Depending on the model, you may have to use a screwdriver to loosen it. 

However, some disposable vapes aren’t designed to be disassembled. In that case, you want to contact the manufacturer to ask how to safely dispose of the device or check with your local waste management agency. 

Now that the disposable vape is disassembled, you can recycle the parts. Remove the battery and place it into a sealable plastic bag or container to take it to an e-waste center or collection program. 

Plastic parts can be recycled through various recycling programs. Rinse the plastic with water to eliminate residue or any remaining e-juice. Before recycling, you should check with your nearby local recycling centers to see if they accept disposable vape parts for recycling. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Below we’ve put together a FAQ section about the dangers of disposing of vapes improperly. 

Can You Put Vapes in the Garbage?

Throwing vapes in the garbage is not recommended since it poses environmental risks. Vapes contain plastic, heavy metals, lead, lithium-ion batteries, and nicotine salts that won’t biodegrade. If left in the trash, it’ll break down into harmful chemicals and microplastics that pollute our wildlife and waterways. 

Final Thoughts

From toxic chemicals to plastic pollution, disposable vapes can harm the planet in many ways. The key is to dispose of vaping devices responsibly. 

Properly disassembling and recycling the device where possible will reduce your environmental impact. You can sign up for the national vape recycling program to do your part to reduce the amount of waste that needs to be sorted and recycled. 

When you sign up with WAKA Vape, you can rest assured of more mindful environmental practices. We do our part to reduce Waste from Electrical and Electronic Equipment and ask our customers to drop off their used vapes at nearby e-waste recycling centers. 

We can work towards a better and more sustainable future by taking precautionary steps and being mindful of our vaping habits. Head to WAKA Vape today to get a range of disposable vapes and a wide selection of flavours with high puff counts.

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