Whilst the internet is awash with the potential health impacts that vaping poses, you won’t be able to find much information on the shocking environmental impacts of the disposable vapes that have taken the nation’s youth by storm in recent years.
However, research from recycling campaign group, Material Focus, has shockingly revealed that the number of disposable vapes thrown away has quadrupled to 5 million per WEEK over the past year.
You can often spot disposable vapes (colourful cheap plastic devices designed to give a few hundred puffs of nicotine vapour) littered on the streets and roadsides, as only 17% of vapers recycle their vapes in the correct recycling bins.
The correct disposal of single-use vapes should be in dedicated bins found in shops or recycling centres, which contain a mineral called vermiculite to reduce the risk of fires. From there, they can be taken to special recycling facilities where they can be dismantled by hand.
Vapes that get mixed up with other household waste can cause fires in bin lorries and waste facilities. Waste company Veolia, which collects around a tenth of the UK’s waste, has said lithium batteries, including vapes, cause around one fire a day in its facilities.
As disposable vapes contain valuable materials like copper wires and lithium batteries, Material Focus has estimated that all disposable vapes thrown away in a year could contain enough lithium to provide batteries for 5,000 cars.
With the Scottish Government considering a ban on disposable vapes, partly because of the problems they can cause in waste disposal – it may not be too soon before the UK follows suit, as some councils in England and Wales are beginning to call for a ban.