66% of all 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, is calling on Ireland’s Gen Z on International E-Waste Day to drive behavioural change when it comes to the proper disposal of vapes and e-cigarettes. ERP’s research showed that two thirds of all vapers were improperly disposing of vapes, which presents a health and safety risk and a missed opportunity to protect the environment.
This year’s International E-Waste Day (14.10.23) is focused on invisible e-waste which is electronic waste that goes unnoticed and often doesn’t get recycled and includes vapes and e-cigarettes. ERP Ireland carried out national research which revealed that one in 10 Irish people claimed to vape which puts the number of active vapers in Ireland at around 500,000.
According to the research, vaping is most prevalent amongst 18–22-year-olds, Gen Z, with one in six claiming to vape. This age cohort also illustrated the lowest level of awareness on how to properly dispose of vape products with 29% incorrectly believing vapes can be disposed of in general refuse bins despite 71% of Gen Z being aware that vape products contain batteries.
Millennials (people aged 23-37) are the second largest cohort of vapers according to the survey with one in eight claiming to vape but significantly this group has the highest level of awareness (25%) that vapes and e-cigarettes can be brought to your local recycling centre.
Martin Tobin, CEO, ERP Ireland said: “Vape waste continues to be a significant issue despite the huge amount of public discourse on the topic. Our research shows that all vape users but in particular young adults need to be more proactive in properly disposing of their used vapes.
The majority 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.”
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 recycled in the WEEE/Battery area at civic amenity sites.
Other key highlights from the research include:
• 42% of current vapers mistakenly believe vape waste 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.