Recycling and recovery

Disposable vapes: Make a plan before the ban

Residents in Calderdale are thinking of the environment and preventing fires by safely disposing of their single-use vapes at their local household waste recycling centre (HWRC), with over 7,000 single-use vapes successfully collected and recycled since the scheme was introduced in November.

The scheme was introduced as a joint project between Calderdale Council and local waste and recycling services provider, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, to try to increase the safe disposal of single use vapes. These often contain harmful components which are not only damaging to the environment and must be kept out of regular waste streams, but can also pose a safety risk if not disposed of correctly by becoming a fire hazard due to the lithium ion batteries contained within.

Research by Keep Britain Tidy estimates that disposable vape litter has doubled in the past 2 years alone, polluting our streets and green spaces, and that a staggering 260 million single use vapes are now thrown away in the UK every year.

The Recycle Your Electricals campaign says that Brits are chucking away almost 8 single-use vapes every second.

Worryingly, in a recent study by Truth Initiative, over 50% of people reported that they don’t know how to properly dispose of these devices.

Calderdale Council took the initiative to combat some of these issues by utilising street sweeping crews to collect and segregate vapes on their rounds, as well as the introduction of vape disposal bins at HWRCs in the borough.

The vapes are collected in vessels at the 5 HWRCs and are sent to a state-of-the-art Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) in Huddersfield operated by the recycling company, Waste Experts, as part of their Vape Recycling Solution, which uses a recycling process to recover tonnes of materials from the vapes collected in Calderdale and diverts the vapes from normal waste processing.

The drive for the safe disposal of single use vapes in Calderdale has coincided with the recent announcement from central government who intend to ban disposable vapes. The announcement has been broadly welcomed by health charities, environmental organisations and the waste and recycling industry.

Councillor Jenny Lynn, Cabinet Member for Public Services and Communities at Calderdale Council, said: "Electrical waste is a growing problem, and it’s shocking how many single use vapes are thrown away each year in the UK.

"We’re doing all we can to change this and ensure that there are ways that people can safely dispose of these products at our HWRCs, with recycling processes allowing materials from these products to be used again."

"This joint project has been a success and it has been great to see the use of the vape bins by a large number of residents in Calderdale," said Nick Browning, General Manager at SUEZ.

"It is so important that residents dispose of their vapes safely, and keep them out of general waste. When vapes are crushed by the compactor in a collection vehicle or damaged whilst being moved around the reception hall at a waste facility, even batteries that have run out can retain enough energy to spark a fire which can endanger lives. Not only that but by disposing of them separately, we’re able to recycle the individual parts by working with innovators like Waste Experts."

They might be called disposable, but they need to be kept separate from other waste and should still be recycled. With the upcoming ban on disposable vapes on the horizon, residents can make a plan to safely dispose of them by :

  • Finding a bag for your old electrical bits and pieces until you can go to the recycling centre. Put the electrical bit of your vape in the bag.
  • Taking them to your local Household Waste Recycling Centre and put them in the vape vessel.
  • There are recycling banks in a variety of locations including supermarkets, car parks and roadside locations with electrical recycling bins.