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How and Where to Dispose of Vapes Responsibly

19th Oct 2023

Sustainable Vaping Week UKVIA LogoMillions across the UK use e-cigarettes as a means to quit smoking. But while there are fewer side effects, vaping has become a hot topic for the environmentally concerned. How do we dispose of vape kits and accessories responsibly without damaging the planet? Which bins do all the different parts go in?

It’s reported that over three million vapes are thrown away each week in the UK, with half a billion in circulation. If not disposed of properly, batteries alone can damage wildlife and our water supply when discarded in general waste. So, what should we do to help protect the environment?

Alongside the useful resources highlighted by the UK Vaping Industry Association (of which V2 Cigs is a proud member) from their new site about sustainable vaping ( more information can be found here), we highlight below what you need to do with your vape components that require responsible recycling with this comprehensive guide. 

How to Recycle Vape Pods and Cartridges the Right Way

Whether it’s your battery, coils, or e-liquid tank, the correct disposal of your vaping equipment is your responsibility and one that should be considered an essential aspect of your vaping. The good news is that recycling vape pods and cartridges is easy, as long as you know how to. But rather than throwing your equipment straight into your recycling bin at home, which may cause issues through battery fire damage, you have two options. What we recommend is taking all recyclable parts to your local centre, but you may wish to disassemble and clean your items.

Let’s start with e-liquid cartridges and vape pods before moving on to batteries. Firstly, manufacturers of different cartridges and pods will use different materials. Check your packaging, as well as the bottom of your cartridge or pod. If a symbol denoting its recyclability is found, you’ll know that you can move forward and start disassembling. Just bear in mind that each part will need to be recycled in a different bin.

Now, onto disassembling your recyclable items. Rinse your cartridges and pods as a way of removing any excess and unwanted e-liquid residue. Next up, you’ll need to disassemble your cartridge or pod. Separate all plastics, glass and metals and wash again thoroughly. Once you’re satisfied that you’ve removed all the e-liquid, go ahead and put your separate components into your corresponding recycling receptacles.

Or to take the fuss out of the whole process, you can head down to your local recycling centre. If you don’t wish to take the trip as often, collect the disposable pods and cartridges over a week or two and take them together in one trip. There are websites dedicated to helping the public find the closest household waste and recycling facilities for electricals, plastics and everything else in between around the UK. 

Recycling Container With Multiple Batteries Inside

Can You Recycle Disposable Vapes?

Disposables from the likes of Elf Bar and Lost Mary are the latest craze in the vaping industry. While increasing in popularity because of their simplicity, many also see them as endangering our planet because they’re used for a few days and then thrown away, with the batteries and other components still inside.

Despite the sceptics, it's ok to use disposable vapes as long as they’re recycled correctly and not ending up in general waste, which can then find its way into landfills, causing all sorts of issues. Before heading to the recycling centre, why not collect a few disposables and take all those empties together to reduce your carbon footprint too?

Despite it being a longer process, some people (although not advisable) may want to dismantle the device personally. Start by removing the battery and then cleaning the small plastic pieces like the tank which contained the e-liquid and the small coil. Everything can essentially be recycled from a disposable apart from the cotton wick, which is often too damaged to recycle. 

Where to Dispose of Disposable Vapes

Believe it or not, disposable vapes such as the popular Elf Bars are in fact completely recyclable, from the outside casing to the pre-charged batterie installed inside. According to the latest studies, roughly five million disposable vapes are discarded incorrectly each week in the UK.

What’s important to know is where to dispose of single-use e-cigarettes responsibly to protect the environment. There are many Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) bins at recycling centres that know exactly what to do with these types of devices.

Once there, a disposable vape will be broken down into parts and responsibly recycled separately to be reused for another purpose.

  • The coil is recycled with other materials
  • Lithium-ion is taken for battery recycling
  • The exterior casing goes to plastic recycling
  • Any glass component (depending on the brand) undergoes glass recycling 

What About Refillable Tanks?

After understanding how to dispose of cartridges and pods responsibly, you may also be wondering whether the same can be said for refillable tanks. A more environmentally friendly way to vape compared with the aforementioned pre-filled cartridges and pods, refillable tanks won’t need to be recycled as often as the more disposable items. Nevertheless, refillable tanks will eventually experience some natural wear and tear, meaning you’ll need to recycle them and replace them eventually.

Collection of Disposable Elf Bar 600 Kits Ready for Recycling

In just a few minutes, you’ll be able to disassemble and clean your unwanted items and recycle responsibly. With a twist here and an unscrew there, carefully separate the individual components of your cartridge. The aim of the game here is to separate any glass, plastic or ceramic items for them to be recycled efficiently. Once disassembled, make sure you clean any e-liquid residue that may be lurking in the nooks and crannies of your kit. Liquid nicotine poses a danger to the environment, therefore taking the time to soak your unwanted items suitably before discarding them should be in your interest and that of mother earth as well.

Because profiled cartridges and pods will need to be disposed of more frequently, the best thing you can do to help the environment is to start using a refillable tank and e-liquid bottles. While you’ll need to fill your tanks regularly with your favourite e-liquid, you’ll significantly reduce your waste, and in turn, play an eco-conscious role as you vape.

Are E-Cigarettes Bad for the Environment?

We live in an ever-increasing eco-conscious age; one that implores us to consume responsibly and in turn, recycle, reuse and repurpose our unwanted items for the sake of planet earth’s health. While e-cigarettes are up to 95% less harmful to our health; from an ecological point of view, without the necessary and responsible recycling of vaping equipment, they could prove to be equally damaging to the environment as the littering of traditional cigarettes.

Should the millions of devices and e-liquids consumed not be disposed of properly and responsibly, the potential cost to our environment could be much more damaging than you might first expect. While single-use disposables and longer-term solutions like vape pens are helping millions of ex-smokers stay smoke-free, the materials that these devices are made with, let alone the e-liquid and battery acid that might seep into the earth, is an ecological hazard that can be easily avoided - should we all take the time and effort to recycle responsibly. 

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