– Teresa Madaleno:
Cannabis experts report that vape product sales went up 79 percent between 2020 and 2021. While health warnings won’t scare all people away from the habit, we hope users will consider the environment when they do partake.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that the use of vapes, or as some people refer to them, e-cigarettes, is unsafe for teens and young adults because they contain nicotine, which is highly addictive. Still, about 50 percent of young adults in Canada who are between the ages of 20 and 24 admit to trying it. Vaping is not only harmful to human health, it hurts the environment, but we don’t hear a lot about that.
Vaping creates waste in more ways than one. Vape devices contain plastics, electronics, and hazardous waste. All of these are bad for the environment.
Here’s how vaping can be more sustainable though…
- Don’t purchase disposable vapes. Unfortunately, we live in a disposable society so when the first vapes were manufactured, they were designed with non-rebuildable atomizers. They are sealed with a coil that isn’t replaceable by the user. Since they are sealed and disposed of, they create waste. Now some vape makers are producing reusable vape pens. They allow you to reuse your coils, thus saving money and resources.
- Think about using organic vapes. Typical vape juices contain propylene glycol (PG), but you can get organic vape juices that have vegetable glycerin (VG) in them. This will help cut down on pollution from the production process, as well as reduce waste impact since it is biodegradable. PG is a derivative of petroleum, so it doesn’t break down.
- Choose glass vapes. Many vapes have plastic cartridges that are made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource. Also, these plastics can release harmful chemicals. If you use glass cartridges, you are helping reduce plastic waste. Furthermore, glass doesn’t contain toxic substances that can leak out in your local landfill or waterways in the way plastics can. Of course, glass can also be recycled.
- Recycle, recycle, recycle. While there is a tendency to just throw vape parts in the trash, don’t do it. Take the used vapes to a hazardous waste facility or purchase vapes from a company that has a return policy and a relationship with a reputable recycling facility.
Sparta’s electronic waste recycling division (ERS/Re-ECO) handles every electronic gadget imaginable, including vapes.
“At our recycling plant in East Toronto, we are fully equipped to handle vape recycling. Every item can be tracked from the moment it comes into the door to the end of the process, providing complete transparency- and we have a state-of-the-art science lab on site, so if we come across something that requires closer examination before we process it, we can do that quickly,” said Sparta President, John O’Bireck.
Currently, Sparta’s ERS division is a business-to-business operation. The company handles some of the biggest name brands in electronics. If the environment matters to young adults as much as experts suggest, then they should be asking their vape providers which recycling facility they depend on to dispose of vape waste safely.
If you are vaping or thinking about trying it, consider the health implications as outlined in this Johns Hopkins Medicine article: 5 Vaping Facts You Need to Know.