Latest COVID-19 Health and Guidance Information - Read here ›

Request a quote
Request a quote
Request a quote
Banner 2x

J&B Recycling Knowledge

Can Vapes Be Recycled?

Can Vapes Be Recycled?

Vapes, also known as electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes, have become a popular choice for those seeking a supposed safer alternative to traditional smoking. But when it comes to recycling vapes, it's not as straightforward as it seems.

Recent research from the recycling campaign group Material Focus reveals a concerning trend in the UK: approximately five million disposable vapes are discarded each week, marking a fourfold increase in the past year alone. Shockingly, only 17% of vapers correctly recycle their vapes. This means more than 215 million single-use vapes are not being disposed of properly annually, leading to a significant accumulation of plastic, metal, and lithium batteries.

So, can vapes be recycled? In short, yes, they can be recycled. However, recycling vapes is challenging, and they should NEVER be placed in your regular recycling bin. Specialised recycling programs are required, and unfortunately at present, the UK lacks the necessary infrastructure to handle this effectively.

What makes vapes difficult to recycle?

One major hurdle is the complexity of the devices themselves. Vapes consist of various materials, including metal, plastic, and electronic components, often intricately intertwined and challenging to separate. Consequently, most conventional recycling systems cannot process vapes, and they must be managed through dedicated schemes where each vape is dismantled by hand.

In addition to being difficult to recycle, vapes also pose a significant fire hazard throughout the waste management and recycling process, due to their lithium-ion batteries. These batteries can ignite if damaged or punctured by the machinery used in waste management, leading to a potentially dangerous thermal runaway reaction and subsequent fires.

Are vapes harmful to the environment?

The environmental impact of vapes extends beyond their recycling challenges. E-juice, the liquid in vapes, contains various ingredients, including nicotine and flavourings, which can be harmful to the environment and recycling facilities if not handled properly. Many recycling programs are ill-equipped to deal with such substances, leading to potential contamination and damage to both equipment and the environment.

How should you dispose of vapes responsibly?

Given these complications, it is crucial to handle vapes properly to protect the environment and recycling facilities. If you can remove the battery, recycle it separately. If not, dispose of the entire vaping kit with your electrical recycling. Most household waste and recycling centres have dedicated bins for electrical items and batteries. Some stores also accept vapes for return.

Is vaping more harmful to the environment than smoking?

In the broader context, vaping is generally considered less harmful to the environment than smoking traditional cigarettes. While vaping doesn't produce smoke or ash, it can still release chemicals and particulate matter into the air. Additionally, e-cigarettes and their components, such as batteries and cartridges, contribute to electronic waste that needs responsible disposal. Nevertheless, smoking tobacco emits a significantly larger volume of harmful chemicals and leads to cigarette butt litter, a major source of environmental pollution.

Looking ahead, the Local Government Association has proposed a ban on disposable vapes by 2024. This initiative aims to address the inherent sustainability issues of disposable vapes and reduce their environmental impact. However, given the popularity of vapes and the existence of a robust black market, implementing such a ban may present significant challenges.

In conclusion, it's clear that vapes should not be placed in your home recycling bin. J&B Recycling, which handles over 200,000 tonnes of household waste annually, has noticed an increasing presence of vapes in kerbside waste. Beyond the environmental consequences, this poses a serious fire risk to their facilities and their dedicated team of workers. Proper disposal and responsible recycling of vapes are imperative to protect our environment and those who manage our waste.

This is just one small sample, which contained multiple vapes...

can vapes be recycled

This is how many vapes we removed from recycling waste in just a few days...

vapes removed from recycling

J&B Recycling are based in the North of England. Our commercial collection services operate from the Scottish Borders down to Hull and North Yorkshire. Our main areas for collecting and processing commercial waste include Teesside (Darlington, Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Stockton), Durham, Gateshead, Newcastle, Sunderland, North Tyneside and Northumberland. Get in touch for more information and to request a quote.

Related Content

- Guide to disposing of Electrical Waste (WEEE)
Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Recycling & Disposal
Ignorance is not bliss if you don’t comply with WEEE regulations
- J&B warns against throwing your old electricals in the recycling

Why are vapes bad for the environment?
Thousands of disposable vapes recovered from kerbside recycling waste streams

Banner2 2x

Delivery & collection
services covering
the UK

Where we operate

Request a quote

For an instant quote, call our team on

01429 276 614
i For general enquiries, please send an enquiry here or call us
  1. 1. Waste type
  2. 2. Company Details
  3. 3. Enquiry Details
  4. 4. Thank you
Please select your waste type(s)…
C&D Waste
Garden Waste
General Waste
Skip Hire
Submit request
Thank you for requesting a quote

A member of our commercial collections team will be in contact with you soon with your quote.

Return to website