Toxic Vape Waste

Posted 15th November 2017 by Dave Cross
NJoy used to be one of the world’s leading cigalike companies, but a combination of poor decision making, financial mismanagement and a raft of unfavourable laws sent it into bankruptcy. Now even this simple step has proven to be fraught with problems as the bankruptcy court hears about a toxic waste issue.

The court heard how company’s receiver is holding mediation talks as part of the bankruptcy process (previously covered here). The talks seek to identify who will be responsible for the abandoned warehouse stock – a matter compounded by the fact that the vaping equipment has been classified as toxic waste. Understandably, neither the Jacobson Warehouse Company nor the Indiana Department of Environmental Management wish to be landed with the disposal costs.

The events raise an important question as to what the vaping community’s attitude is towards the waste it produces, and are businesses and individuals acting responsibly?

In 2015, we wrote about the potential for environmental harm as a result of the increase in disposed lithium-ion batteries, due to the release of an impact study. Some reputable bricks and mortar stores contacted us to say they offered a drop-off recycling service – but in an informal survey, POTV discovered that such a service wasn’t being promoted in local Northamptonshire shops.

Oddly, NJoy used to be on the front foot when it came to environmental issues. The company offered a mail-in service where the customer could exchange eight used cigalikes for recycling in return for a free one…at no cost. This holistic solution not only catered for the Li-ion cell but also covered the metal, plastic and liquid waste.

How do we deal with our bottles and waste liquids? While the volumes may not seem large enough to be concerned about for an individual – multiply our waste to cover the 2.9 million UK vapers and you suddenly end up with problematic levels of potential toxicity. Again, some forward-thinking juice producers offer a service where you can mail back your empty containers, but do enough and is it publicised effectively?

In Hazardous waste status of discarded electronic cigarettes, researchers at the University of Florida wrote about leaching and the potential for ecig waste to contaminate landfills and watercourses. They highlighted that the data needed to make informed decisions simply isn’t there: “There are no published data regarding the amount of disposable e-cigarettes that are sold in the US or internationally. Such data would be valuable to understand the magnitude of this new waste stream and assist regulators regarding management tactics.”

The town of Truckee appears to be the only place taking a proactive stance on vape recycling, and offer advice to the public. They say: “E-Liquid Is Hazardous Waste. E-liquid contains liquid nicotine, which is a harsh chemical and hazardous waste. If you have leftover e-liquid, do not pour it down the drain. Give it to a friend or dispose of it as hazardous waste.”

If any UK store or manufacturer offering a recycling service would like to make themselves known to the author they can be included in a future article and a list on the POTV forum.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker