Are Vapes Recyclable?

25 January 2024

In 2023, the use of single-use vapes increased as a main device in the UK by 31%, while the use of rechargeable vapes dropped to 67%. With 30 million vapes bought a month, and around 5 million vapes disposed of a week, it is great news that the government has announced a ban on disposable vapes. However, the intention of keeping reusable vapes legal means there will still be a need for a responsible vape disposal infrastructure.

As electronic devices with batteries, these devices need to be disposed of correctly, and businesses selling vapes should facilitate this.

In this article, we take a look at why the correct disposal of vapes is important and how to correctly dispose of vapes.

What Are Vapes?

Vapes are electronic devices that turn nicotine into a vapour that is inhaled rather than smoke.

Vapes have gained popularity over recent years as they are viewed as a safer and healthier alternative to smoking cigarettes. This is because they don’t produce 2 of the dangerous elements cigarettes produce: tar and carbon monoxide.

They are also available in various flavours, such as 'cotton candy' and 'lemon tart', appealing to a much younger audience who might not be looking for a nicotine or tobacco hit.

Why Is Correct Disposal So Important?

Correct disposal of reusable and disposable vapes is incredibly important, not just for the environment but for the health and safety of those working within the waste industry too.

The most dangerous component of a vape is the battery. This is because they are one of the biggest causes of waste fires in the UK, not only putting people at risk but wildlife and the environment too.

The wildlife and environment are also affected when vapes are fly-tipped or end up in landfills because the metallic parts and nanoparticles find their way into surrounding bodies of water. Heavy metals also sink into the soils and ground around them, contaminating the underground water, which moves to other pools of water, spreading the effect across a wide area rather than containing it to the already contaminated landfill site.

Finally, by recycling the plastic and metal used in a vape, we would be reducing the need for manufacturing these components, decreasing the carbon emissions that are a result of fabricating them.

Are Vapes Recyclable?

When broken down into its components, about 80% of a vape is recyclable.

Batteries within vapes are usually recyclable, especially if they are lithium-ion batteries. However, the batteries will need to be separated from the rest of the vape, as these will need to be stored and recycled separately to ensure safety.

The containers that hold the e-liquid are usually made from plastic or glass, and vapes contain many metal components, all of which can be recycled.

However, a problem occurs with disposable vapes because the materials used are combined, and the batteries are internal, making it a harder process to segregate all the materials from one another for recycling. This has led to people being unsure of how best to dispose of their vapes.

How To Dispose Of Vapes As WEEE Waste?

Current WEEE waste rules dictate that any electronic or electrical vendor must accept products back to recycle them. Vapes are classed as WEEE waste and those who sell them are responsible for providing a disposal route, usually in the form of accepting used vapes back to be disposed of correctly.

As an individual looking to dispose of vapes as WEEE waste, you will need to take them down to a recycling centre that is fully licensed to accept WEEE waste. Several of our sites can accept WEEE waste, meaning no matter where you are, you will always be near a facility to dispose of your vapes.

If you are running a business where vapes are frequently used and disposed of, it may be beneficial to provide a separate container for the disposal of vapes, so you are easily able to dispose of them correctly and you are able to encourage customers to recycle them too.

For this, you will need to have a designated and signed container. Once this is full, you can arrange a collection of the barrel by a licenced recycling centre.

The Future of Vape Recycling

Currently, around 8 disposable vapes are being disposed of per second. While this statistic will reduce to zero once the new ban is enforced, the statistic for reusable vape disposal will likely increase, making it crucial that infrastructure for the correct disposal of these devices is put in place.

With the help of Material Focus, and regulations from the Environment Agency that state vapes must be recycled rather than incinerated, collection systems are beginning to be put in place to create a separate vapes waste stream.

The hope is that in the near future, we will start providing disposal bins to businesses and local authorities. These will allow the electronic reusable vapes to be disposed of separately from other WEEE or general waste while keeping it easy and hassle-free for the general public. Companies, such as W&S, would then collect these bins once full and take them to fully licenced processing facilities where they will be manually stripped, with each of the materials going for recycling.

Jason, Business Development Manager at W&S Recycling expressed his eagerness at the idea of these bins being introduced, saying “As a recycling company licensed to deal with electronic waste, vapes have been on our radar for a while now and they are a growing concern for the waste industry. This is why we are a champion of vape disposal regulations and action plans and are optimistic that the ban being put in place will reduce issues surround single-use vapes and their disposal. However, this doesn’t mean the issue is going away, as we still need to tackle the disposal of reusable vapes. We hope that the plans currently being discussed will continue so that we can provide easy disposal opportunities for those who use reusable vapes. The sooner we can get a disposal route in place for the general public, the better for our environment, and the safety of the teams working relentlessly behind the scenes at disposal facilities.”

barrel of vapes

The disposal of single-use vapes is no longer a major concern, as the government ban is likely to have a huge impact on it. However, the disposal of reusable vapes is still confusing, as there are very few rules and regulations surrounding the topic. Therefore, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team. We are always happy to discuss ways to help you recycle more.

Call us on 01202 675564 or email us at



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