How to recycle disposable vapes

Often, people are not aware of the risks disposable vapes pose to the environment or the amount of precious, rare materials they contain

Written by spunout

Last Updated: Feb-29-24


As vaping has become more popular, so has the use of disposable vapes. Often, people are not aware of the risks disposable vapes pose to the environment or the amount of precious, rare materials they contain.

If you use a disposable vape, you may want to recycle them but are unsure how to go about it. Here is some information that can help you dispose of your vape safely.

What are disposable vapes?

Disposable, or single-use, vapes are e-cigarettes or vapes that are marketed as being for limited use. As opposed to re-usable e-cigarettes or vapes that can be refilled, disposable vapes cannot be refilled and stop working once the devices no longer have any liquid inside them to create the aerosol/vapour that is inhaled by the user.

The environmental risks of throwing away vapes

Disposable vapes have batteries that contain rare materials such as copper metal, as well as lithium, a metal that is used to create batteries. Circuit boards inside disposable vapes also contain a number of heavy metals such as cobalt, lead and mercury.

When battery-powered items such as vapes are thrown out, so too are these materials. This can cause issues in the surrounding environment for multiple reasons.

Vapes contain batteries that can catch fire, as well as metals and gases that can leak into the local environment and cause problems for fish, animals, water sources and plant life.

Find out more about vaping and the environment.

Why are disposable vapes popular?

The use of vapes has become popular, especially among those under the age of 25, for a variety of reasons. Vapes are readily available in supermarkets, petrol stations and standalone vape shops. 

They are marketed using attractive colours and sweet flavours and have a cheaper up-front price when compared to reusable vaping products, e-cigarettes or cigarette and tobacco products. All of these things make single-use vapes particularly attractive to young people.

How to recycle your vape

It is possible to recycle single-use vapes and reusable e-cigarette devices in some parts of Ireland. This service is provided free of charge by Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Ireland, a non-profit organisation that includes some vape importers as members and collects WEEE on their behalf.

Disposable and rechargeable vapes or e-cigarette devices can be recycled using WEEE Ireland Blue Battery Boxes. These can be found at local recycling centres, newsagents, supermarkets, schools and workplaces. According to WEEE Ireland, it has 11,000 collection boxes across the country.

Products that are battery-powered often include a symbol of a crossed-out wheelie bin. This is to signify that they should not be placed in household waste. 

Disposable vapes can be submitted for recycling as they are; meaning you are not required to take them apart.

Returning disposable vapes to retailers

According to Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency, disposable vapes and e-cigarette products are electrical and electronic equipment (EEE). This means that retailers are legally required to accept them for collection. If you would like to recycle your vape, you could also return it to whatever shop you purchased it from and ask them to take it.

Quitting and reducing vaping

You can also reduce waste from vaping is to reduce or quit vaping altogether. Find more information on how to quit vaping, or how to reduce how much you vape.

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