I’ve never fully understood why people voluntarily fill their lungs with smoke. The new habit of vaping with electronic cigarettes (vapes) confuses me too. After all, America’s Centres for Disease Control warned back in 2018 they are unsafe. And to make it worse, many users don’t recycle their e-cigarettes either.
Failure to Recycle E-Cigarettes Is a Major Problem
Consider these statistics courtesy of The Telegraph that came out a few days ago:
- The UK public purchases 169 million disposable e-cigarettes every year.
- Of these, half go for recycling while the rest end their days as landfill.
- The majority of UK users are young, and in the 18 to 34 age bracket.
- Each e-cigarette contains a battery with rare cobalt and lithium in it.
- If we recovered those metals, we could make 1,200 electric car batteries.
- We would also have less toxic landfill besmirching our lovely countryside.
Sky News explains how we collectively throw away two disposable single-use vapes every second. Our failure to recycle these e-cigarettes means we send ten tons of lithium to landfill or incinerators every year.
Sales of Highly Addictive Vapes Are Booming
This situation is not getting better, despite scarce lithium being in great demand everywhere in the high tech economy. Vape makers are attracting new customers every day.
They make their pen-shaped devices attractive by offering them in a wide range of colours and flavours. These are quickly becoming the fastest-growing alternative to smoking in the UK. Unfortunately, their users don’t put the same amount of effort into recycling them.
Mark Miodownik is a professor of materials and society at University College London. “We can’t be throwing these materials away,” he told Sky News. “It really is madness in a climate emergency.”
“It’s in your laptop, it’s in your mobile phone, it’s in electric cars. This is the material that we are absolutely relying on to shift away from fossil fuels, and address climate issues.” So what do we have to do to correct this situation?
Take Disposing E-Cigarette Waste Seriously.
Croner-1 is a UK consultancy providing information and advice to tax & accounting, human resource, and compliance professionals. They posted how many of their employees had converted across from smoking to vaping. But they did not comment on health and safety aspects, because there is much guidance already available.
That said, they were interested in finding a solution to waste e-cigarettes, and discarded vaping equipment. They were concerned about the environmental impact, and curious to learn how recyclable vapes are. The short answer is the waste industry says there’s been an increase in the volume going to landfill.
Is This More of the Same for Grimy Britain?
There’s been a distinct uptick in fly tipping during the pandemic. This may have been because access to recycling yards throttled back. However, by the same token one could argue there were fewer prying eyes to spot someone dumping household waste during lockdowns. Law enforcement was also somewhat on the back burner.
Perhaps the answer is a blend of all these. Croner-I thinks unused devices turning up in landfill suggests people are purchasing vapes, and then discarding them. Whatever the case may be, we are talking of burying plastic and batteries that will never break down.
Moreover, the batteries themselves contain toxic chemicals from the e-liquids, which have unknown impacts on the environment. Failure to recycle e-cigarettes will have long-lasting consequences!
The Deed And The Demographic Don’t Match Up
The majority of UK users are young, and in the 18 to 34 age bracket. We would have expected them to be more responsible towards their environment. Perhaps the truth is vapes look so elegantly simple it’s hard to imagine they contain chemicals. Or maybe it’s is just too hard?
Hear What U.S. Food and Drug Administration Says
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for protecting and promoting public health through control and supervision of food safety, tobacco products, dietary supplements, and medication. They recommend the following method for disposing of e-cigarettes responsibly:
- “E-cigarettes – including rechargeable batteries and the cartridges and bottles that contain e-liquids – can pose a threat to human health and to the environment if they are not disposed of properly.
- E-cigarette and e-liquid waste should not be thrown in the regular trash or flushed down a sink. Instead, these items should be taken safely to a hazardous waste facility.
This sound perfectly straightforward to us. Perhaps e-cigarette importers and vendors should make recycling bins available at points or sale. However, we’re not sure about those purchased on the internet. Maybe our government should do more to make vapers aware, as we are doing here.
The clearance of large furniture items down several flights of stairs was done without a hitch and the guys even brought their own vacuum cleaner to hoover up any remaining dust and debris. (Margaret)