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How to Recycle Vapes & E-Cigarettes in Australia

30 November 2023
How to Recycle Vapes & E-Cigarettes in Australia
Vapes and e-cigarettes usage in Australia continues to rise with the latest data from the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care showing that 17% of Australians aged 14+ vaped and/or smoke.

Health implications for the user aside, there is another critical consideration that comes into the fold – the waste caused by e-cigarettes and vapes.

In a recent and well-documented move by the federal government, the importation of non-prescription and single-use vaping products have been banned. The move goes a long way to slowing down Australia’s single use vape consumption, however, there is still a long way to go in stopping vapes from reaching Australian landfills.

Whilst we are not in a position to advise on the personal health implications of vape and e-cigarette usage, we are in a position to provide guidance on the need and avenues to encourage the correct disposal and recycling of e-cigarettes and vapes in Australia.

In this article, we’ll look at the free initiatives that aim to cut-down on the environmental impact of single-use plastic and e-waste and how you can responsibly and ethically dispose of vapes in Australia.

The environmental impact of vaping and e-cigarettes

The environmental impact of vaping and e-cigarettes can be broken down into three key segments: plastic, e-waste, and e-liquids. Each of these contribute to the mounting waste from e-cigarette and vape consumption in Australia.

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Plastic: Whilst Australia has now banned the sale of single use and disposable vape products, there is a new underground market that continues to feed the supply of these single-use devices. The single-use plastics found in popular vapes are frequently improperly disposed of and are not biodegradable – even under extreme conditions, which can cause serious long-term environmental issues.

E-waste: The electronic components of e-cigarettes and vapes such as lithium-ion batteries and electronic circuit boards, add a further layer of environmental concern from these devices. These materials are often intertwined with the mechanics of the device to ensure that the user does not replace a single component and, as a result, means that they are difficult to deconstruct and recycle. Improper handling of these materials can also lead to leakages which can cause further damage to the environment.

E-liquids: E-cigarettes contain what are known as ‘e-liquids’, which can include a variety of chemicals such as nicotine, solvents, and flavourings. When improperly disposed of, these liquids can enter our waterways and soil to cause contamination which poses a serious threat to our local flora and fauna.

How to correctly dispose plastics in vapes

As of 2023, the recycling rate for plastics in Australia sits at just 13%. In spite of consistent steps towards reducing and reusing plastic materials, new products such as vapes and e-cigarettes continue to pose new challenges. Here’s how you can properly dispose of the plastic components found in vapes and reduce the environmental burden from these products:

  • Separate components – the complicated construction of vapes and e-cigarettes are one of the biggest barriers to ensuring correct disposal. It’s essential to separate the plastic, battery, and e-liquid components of the vape so that they can be disposed of separately. Check online for the manufacturer's guidance on how you can do this. Each manufacturer should provide specific guidance that allows users to correctly break down and dispose of the different components.
  • Avoid regular trash – it’s important that you do not dispose of vape components – particularly the plastic ones which have the best chance of being recycled, in regular trash that can contribute to our landfills.
  • Consider manufacturer programs – some manufacturers will have vape disposal outlets in Australia, so it’s worth checking online with that manufacturer to understand those options. Given Australia’s hard-line stance that will phase out recreational e-cigarette and vape usage, this is not a long-term solution.
  • Recycle the plastic components – once these components have been separated from the device, you can recycle them in the same way that you would recycle household plastic items. It’s important to remember that any contamination with e-liquids will compromise their recyclability, so ensure that the plastics are not compromised when recycling.
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How to correctly dispose e-waste from vapes

Aldi Battery Recycling

Following on from many of the initiatives of its German parent company, ALDI Australia offers in-store battery recycling out the front of every store.

Since it was launched back in 2013, ALDI has helped Australia to responsibly dispose of and recycle some 351 tonnes of batteries that were otherwise destined for landfill. The in-store battery recycling initiative in Australia from ALDI makes it simple to recycle the batteries found in e-cigarette and vape devices.

Following the guidance from ALDI, simply remove the packaging found on the vape or e-cigarette battery, prepare the battery for recycling, and drop them off into the B-cycle battery recycling bin which is located out the front of every ALDI store.

Officeworks Recycling Drop-off

Officeworks offers in-store recycling of e-waste and batteries including AA, AAA, C, D, 9V, laptop batteries, mobile phone batteries, and other small batteries – such as those found in vapes. Whilst you can’t get rid of larger e-waste items, you can safely dispose of batteries and other e-waste products found as part of vape and e-cigarette hardware.

This service is not available in all stores or locations, so you’ll need to jump onto their website and check your nearest store for service availability.

Ridly e-waste recycling services

Ridly is a leading, local recycling and waste removal company that is committed to sustainability. If you are a business (or individual) that is looking to dispose of the e-waste materials in vapes, our e-waste recycling services provide a fast and efficient way to ensure that you are correctly and ethically disposing of e-waste products.

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How to correctly dispose e-liquids in vapes

Disposing of the e-liquids found in vapes – whether that comes in the form of residue or unused liquids requires careful consideration. Here’s how you can correctly dispose of e-liquids found in e-cigarettes in Australia:

Hazardous waste collection facilities are the safest and most environmentally friendly way that you can dispose of e-liquids. Hazardous waste collection facilities are equipped to handle and dispose of e-liquid materials that can be otherwise harmful or damaging to the environment.

Retailer take-back programs are another, less common, method to dispose of e-liquids in Australia. The rollout of such programs has been all-but halted as a result of the country’s ban on single use e-cigarettes and vapes, so these avenues are drying up quickly.

In Australia, there are a number of companies that offer e-liquid disposal programs. While the correct disposal of e-liquids may seem like a daunting task for individuals, businesses involved in the sale of e-cigarette and vaping paraphernalia can partner with these specialised companies to ensure the responsible disposal of e-cigarettes and vapes in Australia. Such partnerships are essential for companies in the vaping industry or those that generate e-liquid as a by-product of their operations.

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