How to Dispose of Vapes: A Complete Guide

Posted by Pure E-Liquids on 19th Oct 2023

Street sign with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle on

According to the latest research from recycling campaign group Material Focus, it’s estimated that approximately five million disposable vapes are thrown away each week. That’s not including refillable vape kits where people need to discard used vape tanks, e-liquid bottles and vape coils. Vaping is certainly proving to be an effective tool to help millions quit smoking, which is great news, but at what cost to our environment?

And based on that study showing millions are discarding single-use vapes incorrectly, we need to explain in this guide how to responsibly and sustainably reduce waste and positively impact the environment, while still using the cessation tool that helps kick cigarette habits.

Why Would You Recycle a Vape?

Like with any electrical item, there is often some component inside (like a battery) that you can recycle. As prominent recycling organisation Recycle Your Electricals highlights, along with a postcode finder for your nearest centre to dispose of your vapes safely, people are needlessly binning roughly 155,000 tones of electrical waste each year when they throw their vapes in the waste bin. Instead, discarding of the battery and other components correctly can be reused as lithium for car batteries, as just one of many examples.

Recycling responsibly not only protects the environment but allows us to reduce plastic waste, and create a more sustainable way of living. They are produced with materials like steel, copper, and aluminium, which can be reused in all sorts of ways. At the very minimum, they should be recycled.

Can You Dispose of Disposable Vapes Responsibly?

Of course you can! Perhaps the name for these very popular devices, which are purchased in the UK more than 30 million times a month, suggests you can discard them in any bin. But that’s where you are wrong. They contain many intricate components such as the lithium battery and are made with carefully-formed materials which need to be recycled correctly by professionals that know how to separate them.

You could try it at home yourself, but it would waste time and may not lead to the best result. And most certainly you should not just throw the whole thing in the bin and in some cases on the floor, whether that’s at home or on the street. This currently equates to 10,000 tonnes of lithium needlessly discarded in the UK currently.

Instead, the best advice is to collect a few at a time and once you have the time, take them to a local Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling centre, where they dispose of all the components in the correct areas. Otherwise, they will end up in landfills and most certainly endanger the environment, like with any electrical or plastic item.

What About Pods, Cartridges and E-Liquid Bottles?

Pods, cartridges and vape juice bottles are a slightly different story. With e-liquid bottles, that’s the easiest to recycle responsibly. Just ensure it’s completely washed out with no excess nicotine or nicotine-free e-liquid residue. Once it’s empty, and providing it’s plastic (the majority are), you can simply throw it away in your recycling bin at home. However, with refillable pods and cartridges, they can be produced using different types of materials, including a variety of plastics. So, for those instances, we advise taking them to the local recycling centre where they can be assessed and sorted correctly.

Reusable Vape Kits and Vape Tanks

With vape kits, it’s a simple question, does it have an internal or external battery? With an internal battery, you charge it up and over time the battery capacity and duration, as well as quality of power diminishes, meaning you will need to buy a whole new vape kit. But with an external battery device, you simply swap an old one for a new one. And when you dispose of the old one, you can do so responsibly either at a recycling centre or somewhere like a supermarket or retail shop for DIY supplies that often have a place for used batteries.

In contrast with vape tanks, you need to be a bit more careful. Because vape tanks can be created using a mixture of materials (various metals or plastics, with different mouthpiece attachments and glass or plastic to hold the liquid), it’s best to be safe and responsible by taking tanks with any other accessories explained above that need to go to a recycling centre.

Top Tips to Do Your Bit for the Environment

  • If you are out and about with a disposable vape and it’s finished, don’t throw it/them away. Keep it on you, collect at home however many you need and take it to a local WEEE recycling centre
  • Order in bulk to save on carbon footprint and better yet order online where multiple deliveries are made using one vehicle for a selected route
  • For MTL vaping we advise using nic salt e-liquids which stretch a little further than traditional vape juice, meaning less use of plastic for DTL vaping larger clouds, try a larger bottle e-liquid in a shortfill which does not include nicotine (50ml with space for a nic shot)

For further information on this topic, the UKVIA (United Kingdom Vaping Industry Association) are tackling this issue by launching the very first Sustainable Vaping Week (October 16th-22nd 2023) with a brand-new website, which provides useful information and studies explaining how you can do your part for the environment.

According to the latest research from recycling campaign group Material Focus, it’s estimated that approximately five million disposable vapes are thrown away each week.