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Are Disposable Vapes Biodegradable?

Published 19 July 2022, Updated 9 April 2024

Are Disposable Vapes Biodegradable?

Disposable vapes are not biodegradable. The vast majority of disposable vape pens have few to no biodegradable components. The components of disposable vapes are materials like plastic, metal, cotton, lithium-ion batteries, sticky tape, wires and cardboard.

The materials used by most disposable vape brands, apart from cotton and cardboard, are not biodegradable. Disposable vapes are notoriously difficult to dispose of, and to dispose of them properly; one must dismantle the vape into its component pieces and place them into their respective bins.

For example, lithium-ion batteries have a lot of precious and heavy metals in them. These are not to be disposed of in the general waste bin. Proper disposal of these must be within a battery recycling collection point. These can be found in most major supermarkets or electronic stores. This is because when they are placed in general waste, there is a risk of explosion and fire.

The plastic mouthpieces and ends are not biodegradable and are extremely difficult to recycle. Although you can place these into your recycle bin, it is more than likely that when they go into sorting facilities, they are not the correct grade of plastic to be recycled and, as such, will end up in a landfill or incinerator. Plastic waste is known to stay within the environment for hundreds if not thousands of years, posing a risk to flora and fauna.

Any metal in the disposable vape is most likely recyclable, so these can be placed into your recycling bin. It is important to remember that recycling sorters will not dismantle your vape into its parts. So you should ideally dismantle them safely and put them into numerous bins if you wish to dispose of them properly.

Cotton is the only component of a disposable vape that is organic and biodegradable. To get to the e-liquid-soaked cotton, you must dismantle the vape and remove the cotton. From here, this cotton may be thrown into a compost bin, where microbes will break it down.

The cardboard packaging is recyclable and biodegradable. Although it is not great for the environment, you can throw this material (as long as there is no plastic liner on it) into the compost bin, and it will biodegrade in approximately one year.

Are Disposable Vapes Recyclable?

Disposable vapes are not recyclable when placed into the recycling bin without being dismantled first. The problem with disposable vapes is that a handful of components are recyclable on their own, but when placed as a whole unit in the recycling bin, they are not recyclable.

In theory, you could dismantle the disposable vape before recycling, and once you have the separate components of the vape, you can begin to place them into their respective recycling bins.

For example, cardboard packaging goes into the cardboard recycling bin. Metal can go into the metal recycling bin; batteries can go into the battery recycling bin.

Although we do not recommend this as it is not easy to do without there being a safety risk.

Instead, sending these disposable devices to specialised WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) recyclers is recommended. WEEE recyclers can take your disposable device without you dismantling it into its parts first. These recyclers specialise in electronic goods and will dismantle your disposable devices prior to correct disposable. It is worthwhile storing many disposable devices rather than just sending 1 or 2 at a time.

Can You Put Disposable Vapes In The Bin?

Nothing is stopping you from placing disposable vapes into the bin. This, however, is not the correct method of their disposal as there are valuable and finite resources in them, such as the lithium within the battery cells. In addition to these precious resources, there is a risk of explosion and fire when batteries are crushed, hence why battery disposal is always recommended within a battery collection point.

The earth has finite resources, which will eventually be depleted; as such, it is essential for us to recycle and reuse these precious materials wisely. Placing disposable vapes into the general waste will most likely end up being buried and never recycled, which takes these valuable resources out of use for good. In contrast, if you were to recycle them, there is a chance that they will end up being used in another product.

How Do I Dispose Of Disposable Vapes?

Disposable vapes are made to last however long the battery lasts. After the disposable has reached the end of its product lifecycle, it is essential to use the correct disposal method.

Theoretically, you could dismantle a disposable vape. You would need several tools such as pliers and a flat head screwdriver to do this safely. You would then need to remove the mouthpiece and end to reveal the innards of the disposable vape. You will have to cut the wires to the battery, which usually looks like a white plastic sheet that has been rolled up very tightly. After this has been severed, you can store the battery in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight as there is a risk that when they overheat, they may explode and cause a fire. Due to the safety issues described above, we do not recommend dismantling your disposable vape for disposal purposes.

Instead, we recommend taking your intact disposable vape pen to a specialised electronic waste company as this device is classed as WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment). Storing these up is worthwhile rather than just taking the odd device or two.

Check out our collection of 0mg, 5mg, 10mg, and 20mg disposable vapes at IndeJuice.

Learn more with our article are disposable vapes environmentally friendly?

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