66% of vapers are likely disposing of their vape waste improperly
The European Recycling Platform (ERP), Ireland’s only pan-European compliance scheme for WEEE and Waste Batteries, today announced research results highlighting the confusion that exists for consumers in the proper disposal of vapes and e-cigarettes. The nationally representative online survey carried out in May 2023 amongst 1,000 adults aged 18+ years, revealed that currently 1 in 10 claimed to vape which would put the number of active vapers in Ireland closer to 500,000. With 66% of vapers disposing of their vapes improperly, this presents a health and safety risk and a missed opportunity to protect and enhance our environment.
- Two thirds (66%) of current vapers are likely disposing of their vape waste improperly, in general refuse bins or domestic recycling bins
- 1 in 10 people in Ireland now claim to be vaping
- Around 93% of vapers are aware that vapes contain batteries but that knowledge is not translating into a positive recycling behaviour
Vaping products contain electronic components and lithium-ion batteries and require safe disposal when they become waste. When damaged, short-circuited or overheated, these batteries can catch fire and present a risk to the health and safety of waste collection workers and others. Vapes also contain a complex mixture of critical raw materials such as cobalt, nickel and manganese, which can be re-used. A circular economy provides us with the opportunity to consume fewer resources and to extend the life of resources by turning more waste into resources and keeping them in the supply chain.
Consumers may return waste vaping devices, free of charge, to any retail outlet that sells them when purchasing a new one or they can be disposed in the WEEE/Battery area at civic amenity sites.
Other key highlights from the research include:
- 42% of current vapers mistakenly say used vapes can be disposed of in a general refuse bin.
- 24% of current vapers mistakenly believe vape waste can be disposed of in a household recycling bin.
- Only 23% of current vapers correctly believe that vape waste should be brought to a recycling centre, and only 13% believe it should be returned to a vape vendor.
Martin Tobin, CEO, ERP Ireland said: “Vape waste is an emerging issue as the prevalence of vaping in Ireland increases rapidly. Vapes contain batteries and other recyclable materials but as this research shows a high proportion of current vapers are mistaken about how they should be disposing of used vapes.
Around 93% of vapers are aware that vapes contain batteries but that knowledge is not translating into a positive recycling action. ERP Ireland offers free recycling of these devices through our battery collection network. ERP battery recycling boxes are located at your local supermarket or recycling centre. Vape and e-cigarette vendors must also accept these products for recycling on a one-for-one, like for like basis.
ERP Ireland, as the Principal Circular Festival Partner of the Body & Soul Festival, Ireland’s leading sustainable music festival, have commissioned artist, Ned Leddy, to create a sculpture highlighting the issue of vape recycling.
“As a form of ‘artivism’, an installation can do more than just entertain - it can significantly impact culture and society. We have commissioned artist, Ned Leddy, to create a sculpture that will be displayed, on site at the upcoming Body & Soul festival. The focus of the piece, Trash Mammoth, will be to raise awareness about vape waste.
Some people think that like a cigarette, vapes are disposable but they contain important materials and should be recycled. We may have a Mammoth task ahead, but we hope this art installation will act as a beacon of inspiration and a call to action to encourage people to recycle their vapes and e-cigarettes,” said Tobin.