Disposable vapes have become all the rage through being marketed as the perfect solution for long-term smokers’ health, but also for the environment.
The vast majority of cigarette butts are made from single-use plastic and contain hundreds of toxic chemicals. These chemicals remain inside the buds once smoked and littered cigarette butts can persist in the environment for many years, releasing these chemicals to air, land and water, harming plant growth and wildlife.
Thus, because vapes don’t have the same elements as traditional cigarettes, they are seen to be “better”.
If everyone was using reusable and refillable vapes then yes, vaping is better for the environment than cigarettes. Although a significant proportion of vapes sold are disposable, 600 puffs and they can be thrown away. Although it states on disposable vape labels that they cannot be just thrown away into the bin with normal garbage, and vape companies as well as retailers don’t make it clear we should properly recycle vapes, so they end up in landfills. Once in landfills, vape pens can leak even worse chemicals than those in cigarette buds such as metals, battery acid and flammable lithium-ion. Additionally, these pens are made of plastic and thus it takes hundreds of years for them to break down naturally, and once they have broken down, the microplastics will stick around, leaking into the ground soil and water.
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Just to give a bit more context of how many vapes one person could go through, a single disposable vape experiences the equivalent as a pack of cigarettes. For a pack-a-day smoker, that’s one vape a day, 52 vapes a year, all of which end up in landfill.
According to a report from Future Market Insights, the global disposable vape market is expected to reach $6.34 billion by the end of 2022. By 2032 this number will hit $18.32 billion. This indicates that the appetite for vaping will not go away anytime soon.
The main problem with disposable vapes is the lack of awareness on how to properly dispose of them. Even though it clearly states on the packaging not to throw them in the bin, how is the everyday user supposed to know to recycle them? Only 15% of e-cigarette users reported disposing of empty pods or disposable vapes by dropping them off or sending them for electronic recycling.
So there are two main ways you can dispose of your vapes: electrical recycling bins, either through curbside pickup or via a household recycling centre; and supermarket battery recycling bins.
I understand that vapes are fun and they don’t give off the same negative effect as smoking, as I have also used disposable vapes and I too did not understand the environmental repercussions of using them. However, after diving into research on their environmental impact, I realise how bad our vaping habit has become. So I implore you, if you care for the environment, invest in refillable pods.