2 min read
Vaping waste laying on the street

Earth Day is an annual celebration that demonstrates support for environmental protection. While there are many issues related to protecting the environment, vaping is not often discussed as an environmental problem. However, vaping is a big problem when you look at the type of waste it produces and the ways that waste impacts the environment. Disposable vaping devices contain multiple types of waste. These include hazardous waste from residual nicotine, THC, and flavoring; heavy metals from the vaporizer’s electrical circuitry and lithium batteries; and plastic waste from undecomposable outer shells and packaging materials

Ways Vaping Impacts the Environment

  • Plastic waste. Most vaping devices are single-use pods that are made of plastic. These types of single-use pods are nonbiodegradable and are not eco-friendly. Plastic waste can upset natural habitats and natural processes that affect the ability of our ecosystems to adapt.
  • Electronic waste. Vaping devices contain lithium batteries and electrical circuitry that pose significant harm to the environment. If not disposed of properly, lithium batteries will break down and leach toxic compounds into the environment. Disposable vapes are also a fire hazard, especially when thrown in the trash or regular recycling bins and compactors.
  • Chemical waste. Another environmental risk faced from vaping devices is the chemical waste from the ingredients used to make the liquid inside of the pod. E-juice contains various levels of nicotine, heavy metals, lead, and all the chemicals used to make the flavors. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated nicotine as an acute hazardous waste. Therefore, the vape cartridges and devices pose a threat to water sources and soil.
  • Disposable vape waste can be ingested by animals. The aroma of flavored nicotine can be appealing to animals. Pets and wildlife can be poisoned by nicotine and THC concentrate. They can also be harmed by mechanical parts if they ingest devices that are left on roadways, sidewalks, and trails.  

What can you do? 

  • Host a cleanup day. The Truth Initiative is America’s largest nonprofit public health organization committed to making tobacco use and nicotine addiction a thing of the past. They have a cleanup day kit campaign that people can order at thetruth.com/environment.
  • Stop vaping/encourage e-cigarette users to quit. The Truth Initiative offers a one-of-a-kind service that has helped over 500,000 youth and young adults on their journey to quit vaping. Teens and young adults can join for free by texting DITCHVAPE to 88709. 

More Information

The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has several resources on vaping for teens and adults. To find these resources, visit the Health section of the Extension website, www.aces.edu.