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Vaping and the Environment

Types of e-cigarette and vape waste

How Does Vaping Impact the Environment?

Vaping poses a unique threat to the environment because of the difficulty in breaking down its components. Vapes or e-cigarettes contain three different types of waste: plastic waste, electronic waste, and hazardous waste, making them uniquely difficult to dispose of.

“When not disposed of properly, vapes and e-cigarettes can introduce plastic, nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury, and flammable lithium-ion batteries into waterways, soil, and to wildlife.” 

Even under severe conditions, vapes will never biodegrade – they will only break down into microplastics and chemicals that pollute waterways and are almost impossible to clean up. 

What Are Vape Companies Doing About It?

The reality is, even if consumers want to dispose of their vapes properly, vape companies often don’t provide their customers with a way to do so. According to a 2019 study by the Truth Initiative, almost half of vape owners reported that there was no disposal information on their devices. When vape and e-cigarette disposal sites are available, most consumers report they are difficult to locate. Instead of vape and tobacco companies taking responsibility for their waste and increasing ways for customers to recycle used products, they will take part in clean-up initiatives to improve their reputation and appear to be more environmentally friendly than they truly are. 

Banner: What's the best way to dispose of vapes?

What is the Safest Way to Dispose of Vape Products?

Proper vape disposal instructions
  1. Check the packaging of the device to see if it provides any recommendations for safe disposal of the product or offers any recycling programs. You can also ask local retailers where the device was purchased if they offer any sort of recycling services.
  2. Research your local waste department’s household hazardous waste (HHW) program to see if they accept vapes and e-cigarettes. Here is a link to find hazardous waste drop-off sites in your area and to check if they accept vaping devices. You can also search individually by county if you Google “[your county] household hazardous waste program.”
  3. If the household hazardous waste program in your area does not accept vaping devices and e-cigarettes, remove the battery (if possible) and take it to a local recycling center. Then, bring the rest of the vaping device to a DEA takeback day where it will be disposed of properly. Find dates and locations for DEA take back days with the locator here.

While the effects of vaping are often focused on the individual user, the pollution created by vaping and vape-devices is a factor that affects everyone – whether they choose to use or not. Protect yourself and your environment by getting the facts on how to do your part to keep the earth clean. For more information, check out the full report on the environmental impacts of vaping from the Truth Initiative linked here.