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The rise of disposable vaping and its effects on the environment

Vaping as a method to quit smoking has slowly evolved into the mass production of disposable vapes. While these vapes are used as a method to ditch cigarettes by some, their demand has increased among young adults. Not only does this pose serious health issues in the future, but their environmental impact has not been reported to as high a degree. 

Weekly within the UK, 1.3 million single use vapes are thrown away, and  these items are being disposed to landfills in extremely high volumes, as their popularity has soared within the past 2 years. With these booms in production, comes plastics and cheap materials for efficient production. These products are 3 forms of waste in one product, as they are electronic waste, plastic waste, and hazardous waste.  The growing culture of vape usage has boomed within the last few years and is worrying how little the public know about their environmental impact. The lack of information and education about how they should properly be disposed has led to the high volumes of vapes in landfill, and can cause the leakage of toxic chemicals, battery acid and nicotine, into water supplies and wildlife habitats, and throughout the landfill, causing fires. 

Disposable vaping brands, most notably Geekbars and Elfbars, contain lithium batteries with capacities ranging from 400mAh to 750mAh, equating one vape to contain approximately 1 tenth of lithium. While this seems minute, the volume of these products being disposed means each year, 10 tonnes of lithium end up in landfill. With 48% of waste fires within the UK occuring due to improperly disposed Lithium-ion batteries, it is clear there is a need for education regarding proper disposal for vaping products.  Lithium batteries are an essential component to renewable energy sources, as they have a reduced carbon footprint in comparison to normal batteries. However, Lithium is a limited resource, and is now mainly being used for disposable vapes, and thrown out. This indicates how these majors vape brands are misinforming the public, as there is no information on their packaging relating to how to properly dispose of these vapes, and that most of the packaging is recyclable.  

Although banning disposable vapes would be an almost impossible task, we can combat their impacts on the environment by educating the public about their impacts, how to dispose of them properly, and promoting rechargeable vapes instead. Throwing these products in general waste is convenient for the user, but perhaps with a greater guidance on the impact their making, such as the impact on wildlife, greenhouse gas emissions, and how to properly dispose of such complex waste in their nearest recycling centre, we can combat the severity of the impact disposable waste are already posing to the environment. 



Recycling Information and Local Centres:

Local vape recycling centres

Local electronic recycling locations 

Local Recycling Centres