Recycling Disposable Vapes

by Jemma Wolfe

By Jemma Wolfe
Published: 21-11-23 

How To Dispose Of & Recycle Disposable Vape Pens
How To Dispose & Recycle Disposable Vape Pens

How To Dispose Of & Recycle Disposable Vape Pens

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Can I Put Disposable Vapes In My Bin?
  • How To Recycle Disposable Vapes: 5 Easy Methods
  • What Happens When I Recycle Vapes?
  • Should I Keep Using Disposable Vapes?
  • Vape Recycling at myCigara

Despite their convenient nature and unwavering popularity, there’s simply no denying that disposable vapes are posing environmental threats. And with 138 million disposable vapes being sold in the UK every year, it begs the question: where do they go?

A recent study found that 50% of all disposable vapes sold across the country are eventually thrown away, inevitably winding up in landfill sites.

This sobering statistic proves more than ever that we need to address the problem as consumers, and it all starts with recycling. The unfortunate reality is that most vape users don’t recycle their vapes. However, this probably isn’t a conscious choice or an act of pure laziness— in truth, most people don’t know how to go about recycling their used disposable vapes— and there lies the problem. In this guide, I’ll break down 5 simple ways to recycle your used disposable vapes.

So, if you've ever wondered what to do with those empty disposable vape pens, read on to discover how you can make a positive impact on the environment while still enjoying your favourite devices.

Can I Put Disposable Vapes In My Bin?

No, you shouldn’t dispose of any vaping device in your general waste bin. Choosing to toss your used disposable vape pens in your trash bin at home or a public litter bin will only continue to exacerbate the negative environmental impacts of these single-use devices.

Taking this “out of sight, out of mind” approach may be easy, but each and every disposable vape you throw away will find its way to a landfill site, eventually leaking battery acid and harmful chemicals into the environment. Read on to find out about safer methods for disposing of your vape pens.

How To Recycle Disposable Vapes: 5 Easy Methods

1. WEEE Recycling Facilities

WEEE stands for Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment and this directive came into effect in the UK back in 2006.

In a nutshell, WEEE makes recycling household electrical waste far easier for the consumer. Before 2005, most electronic household waste would be sent straight to landfill. But thanks to the WEEE directive, the producers of these products now have a responsibility to ensure accessible recycling solutions to the general public. You’ll know if a product is considered WEEE, as it will feature a distinctive symbol on its packaging.

Take a look at the box for your disposable vape, see that crossed-out wheelie bin symbol? That means it’s classed as WEEE, and should never be thrown out with your general waste. Instead, you must take it to a dedicated WEEE facility.

WEEE facilities can often be found at your local recycling centre. As well as disposable vapes, you can also recycle larger vaping devices here such as rechargeable e-cigarettes.

The best way to find a WEEE recycling facility near you is to head over to the Recycling Collections Page on the Government website. Here, you can type in your postcode, locate your local council recycling centre and find out if they can accept vape devices.

2. Electrical Recycling Centres

Most electrical recycling centres are more than happy to take your used disposable vapes off your hands. If you’re not sure where your nearest electrical recycling centre is located, this handy vape recycling locator will do the work for you.

Simply type in your postcode, select “vape” from the drop-down list of recyclable items and hit “Show me my options.” You’ll be met with a list of nearby electrical recycling centres, ranging from community recycling facilities to supermarket drop-off points.

I found this tool the most helpful when trying to locate my local recycling centres, as it covered everything from large WEEE facilities to small battery bins at my local petrol station. So if you don’t live near a large recycling facility, I recommend giving this tool a try.

3. Vape Stores

Many vape stores now offer recycling programs for used vape devices, including disposable vape pens.

These stores often collaborate with recycling centres and schemes, which allows them to display designated bins or areas in-store where customers can drop off and recycle vapes in bulk. Thanks to the Retailer Take-Back Scheme that launched back in 2021, many vape stores are happy to take your used disposable vapes off your hands when purchasing a new one.

While this isn’t available at every vape store just yet, thousands have already joined the scheme. You can recycle your used Elf Bar disposables at all myCigara stores, thanks to the new Elf Bar Recycling Scheme. Look out for the designated Elf Bar bins in your local store today!

4. Supermarket Battery Bins

Most vape users are unaware that they can easily recycle their used disposable vapes at their local supermarket.

Since disposable vapes contain batteries and other electronic components, these bins can serve as a suitable option for recycling. Remember— you don’t need to remove the vape battery in order to recycle it, just toss it in intact along with its plastic casing.

These recycle points are usually found near the checkout or exit of the store— just look out for a transparent bin labelled “battery recycling.” As a general rule, supermarkets and stores that sell batteries will have a battery recycling point on-site.

If you can’t find your local battery bin in-store, be sure to check supermarket car parks, forecourts and petrol stations. You can also use the vape recycling locator tool mentioned in Method 2 to find a local battery bank.

5. Send Them Back To The Manufacturer

Depending on where you purchased your disposable vapes, you may be able to send them back to the manufacturer once they’re depleted.

Many vape brands have partnered with recycling services, allowing them to recycle used disposables in bulk. As the rules surrounding their disposal are becoming stricter, it may soon be compulsory for all vape manufacturers to offer a vape take-back scheme.

Until then, we recommend checking the manufacturer's website or product packaging for information on how to return your used devices.

What Happens When I Recycle Vapes?

Whether you decide to drop your used disposables off in-store, at a local supermarket or a council recycling centre, they will all eventually end up at a certified electrical recycling facility.

Once there, the internal batteries are extracted and the rest of the device is then taken apart. The resulting pieces are then sorted into separate categories, like metals and plastics, and ensure they're clean and ready for the next step.

The materials that can be reused are sent to specialists: plastics go through additional processing, and metals are usually sent to smelting facilities. On average, 80% of all disposable vape fragments can be repurposed to create something new.

Should I Keep Using Disposable Vapes?

Disposable vapes have undeniably made a significant impact on the world, helping hundreds of thousands of people break free from their smoking habits and explore a less harmful alternative.

But as discussed, disposables, by their very nature, create a lot of electronic waste. So, while they certainly serve their purpose for quick and easy vaping, they're not a long-term, eco-friendly solution. Here's the bottom line: If you find disposable vapes helpful when transitioning away from smoking or enjoy their simplicity, they can be a great temporary solution. But they shouldn't be a permanent choice.

Once you’re accustomed to vaping, consider looking into more sustainable options, such as prefilled and refillable pod systems and vape pens. These devices offer a similar vaping experience without the same environmental drawbacks.

Of course, even components from these vape kits should be recycled to combat electric waste, but reusable devices generate far less waste overall than their disposable counterparts.

Vape Recycling at myCigara

At myCigara, we exist to help make the UK smoke-free. By providing information and advice on how to vape sustainably, we hope to empower individuals to not only quit smoking but also make environmentally conscious choices when it comes to vaping.

Choosing to recycle your disposable vapes through one of the 5 easy methods we've discussed is a small yet significant step towards a greener future.

Together, we can vape responsibly, protect our environment, and take strides toward a smoke-free future.

If you have any questions about vape recycling or vaping in general, please feel free to contact us. Alternatively, you can visit your local myCigara store and have a chat with one of our knowledgeable team members today.

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