Everything you need to know about vaping and the environment.
Many of us are trying to reduce plastic waste these days since we're all trying to be eco-friendly. Almost no vape juice brand uses glass bottles anymore, although most still use single-use plastic bottles.
What are the likely effects of vaping on the environment, and how can we reduce our plastic waste while we vape?
Does vaping have the same environmental impact as smoking?
Quite simply, no.
Besides smelling disgusting, cigarette butts are also one of the most prevalent sources of pollution. Right now, cigarette butts are polluting the oceans in staggering numbers -- they cause more pollution than plastic straws, bags, and bottles combined.
These butts are not made of paper. There are more than 80% made of cellulose acetate, which is a man-made plastic that takes about ten years to biodegrade - which means that the cigarettes in the ocean today may have been used as recent as 2012. According to the Cigarette Butt Pollution Project, smoking debris accounts for more than a third of the items found today on beaches, in rivers, and in streams.
The problem worsens. The plastic waste from vaping products is not as harmful as the chemicals found in smoke, which are present in cigarette buts. It is this chemical reaction that causes cigarette filters to develop those nasty brown marks. In cigarettes butts, there can be a variety of toxic compounds, including formaldehyde, nicotine, arsenic, lead, copper, chromium, cadmium, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons. We are exposed to those toxins as soon as we smoke cigarettes.
Thousands of millions are spent every year trying (and largely failing) to clean up all of this, but the bottom line is that, if you have switched from smoking to vaping, you have made an environmentally friendly choice.
Smoking, however, does not have batteries. Could they be a problem?
Vapers can minimize their footprint by taking a few simple steps to dispose of batteries in an environmentally friendly manner, which can be challenging.
There are many vaping devices or vape pens that use lithium ion batteries, which can often be recharged repeatedly, giving the product a reasonably long lifespan. In addition, many places have collection facilities for used household batteries to be recycled - for instance, battery recycling bins can be found throughout the UK.
Vapers who use disposable vapes are likely to use more batteries. It's easy to see why these are a popular convenience product. Many refillable atomizers and pods, as well as larger batteries have longer life spans, but they are less convenient.
It's pretty simple to use disposables, it's as simple as taking it out of the box and you are good to go. It is essential that vapers don't go back to smoking. Therefore, if disposables are your favorite, you should stick with them. At least partially switch to a Pod-based system or refillable system if you can.
Can bottles and cartridges be recycled?
It is important to take precautions when disposing of empty bottles, pods, atomizers, and cartridges, as nicotine may still be present. As with dish soap and other hazardous household products, they should be handled similarly. Some of these measures include:
- Find out where hazardous waste is collected in your area from local resources
- After you have used a vape, seal it up and keep it for no longer than 90 days before disposing of it
- E-liquid should not be rinsed from cartridges - it may contaminate water
- Skin contact with e-liquid should be avoided
- Vapes should not be used near children or pets
Furthermore, larger bottled formats contain less plastic per unit of juice than smaller ones. Thus, you may want to consider larger product formats if those are available where you are. Furthermore, some manufacturers continue to offer glass bottles, while others use recycled plastic.
Tips for vaping in an eco-friendly manner
Here are five tips to help you make more eco-friendly choices while vaping and reduce your single use plastic consumption:
The most important rule is not to smoke. There is almost no way to dispose of cigarette butts in an eco-friendly manner because of their damaging effects on the environment. Additionally, they are quite bad for your health, and you should definitely avoid them.
If you can, use reusable batteries - whether you prefer pre-filled pod systems, refillable pod mods, or traditional tanks and batteries, use these as much as possible. You may also prefer disposables in some situations, but keep their use to those cases where prefilled models aren't available.
Where larger formats are available, use them. Whether they're bottled e-liquids or pod-based systems, use larger formats whenever possible. With a vaping setup that has a lower plastic-to-liquid ratio, you'll produce less waste plastic.
If you can, locate local battery recycling facilities - many municipalities have government-backed recycling facilities. Use the internet to identify the systems available where you live and use them if you live in one of those places.
If you can avoid it, be sure not to pour e-liquid down the sink as nicotine can harm aquatic life.