All Points Medical Waste Blog
E-Cigarettes & Vape Pens
E-cigarettes and vape pens are the latest rage—people of all ages across the world are switching from traditional cigarettes to these devices. In fact, stats show that more than 10 million people in America are vaping daily, which equates to one in twenty adults. Because of this, waste management facilities around the United States have reported a large uptick in the amount of discarded devices and the need for defining how these items are handled.
Are they hazardous waste?
In a word, yes. Although e-cigarettes and vape pens are considered to be more eco-friendly than their traditional counterpart—regular cigarettes can take up to twelve years to biodegrade, these devices contain parts that must be handled as hazardous waste.
The cartridge, which is where the nicotine solution is contained, and the lithium battery, make vape pens and e-cigarettes a hazard to the environment and can pose a risk to humans and animals if improperly discarded. Here’s why:
Nicotine or cannabis residual
Used vape pens and e-cigarettes often have a residual of nicotine left in the cartridge after use. Even is the user has rinsed the cartridge out, that tiny amount of nicotine can harm people and animals, especially curious children who may pick it up if it’s been thrown in the regular trash. Those that end up in a landfill can pollute the ground and water in areas surrounding the disposal site. The best option is to find a local recycling facility that will take back used cartridges or to drop them off at your city’s hazardous materials management facility.
Lithium batteries release harmful metals
Many of today’s most popular vape products and e-cigarettes use lithium batteries which contain a number of chemicals including mercury, nickel, cadmium, manganese, and electrolytes. These chemicals can have an adverse effect on the environment including depleting resources, ecological toxicity and even global warming. When thrown in household trash, they end up in landfills where they can release mercury, lead and cadmium, contaminating the soil and ultimately the water supply. They have also been known to cause birth defects and neurological and developmental damage and can also release toxic smoke. Clearly, lithium batteries should not be thrown away haphazardly. It’s recommended that you dispose of lithium batteries in the following ways:
- Find a recycling facility
- Contact a local or municipal waste management facility
- Resell or donate
Vaping and e-cigarettes offer smokers an alternative to traditional smoking methods—but not without risks to their health or the environment. Be sure to use these devices safely and to follow the tips on proper disposal.
For more information about medical waste, please visit our blog or give All Points Medical Waste a call. It’s our goal to provide you with the latest information and a wealth of resources when it comes to medical waste and health-related topics. We are a full-service medical waste disposal provider serving South Florida, including the Treasure Coast, Okeechobee, Indian River, Palm Beach and Broward Counties.