Vaping cannabis is one of the most popular ways of consuming cannabis these days: it’s efficient, discreet, and there are many affordable models on the market.
Having said that, the vaping industry continues to grow in size.
But here’s the question no one is asking: what happens to all those disposed vape pens and cartridges? Have you thought about what happens to your pens and its parts when you throw it away?
The truth is that vape pens and cartridges fall into the same category as batteries, printer cartridges, or light bulbs in terms of waste disposal. Unless you take them to a hazardous waste facility, consumers are not left with much choice on the right way to dispose of them -unless you educate yourself well on your state’s available recycling programs.
In Canada, they’ve already made strides in this area. Tweed, a major cannabis company, partnered with TerraCycle, a recycling firm. Their Tweed x TerraCycle Cannabis Packaging Recycling Program was introduced on the day before cannabis was legalized back in October 2018. Within the first 6 months, they were already able to recycle 165,000 containers including those that are considered difficult to recycle such as bottles made with childproof covers, plastic bags, tins, tubes, and more. They have over 100 stores in Canada where customers can dispose of containers that are made from licensed producers.
Vape batteries that are made from lithium-ion are bad for the environment. They can leak or explode, and even start fires. Check with your municipal authorities on the available solutions for disposing electronic waste for your vape batteries; you can also ask your dispensary or even electronic retail shops in your neighborhood. You can dispose of batteries in battery recycling programs.
Undamaged vape batteries can be donated. Check out retailers such as The Home Depot, Best Buy, Lowe’s and Staples for recycling programs to keep batteries out of landfills while reducing the impact on the environment. If you know someone who’s starting out with vapes, you can also give it to them!
But if you have leaking or broken batteries, look for businesses that accept these kinds of batteries. Alternatively, if there are none in your area, look for local recycling centers. Even if some may not be able to accept it, they may be able to point you in the right direction.
Additionally, for electronic waste, the general guidelines for them is to be completely discharged, cooled, and left in storage submerged in cold saltwater for two weeks. After then, you can wrap up the battery and throw it into the trash.
Cannabis Vape Cartridges
The sad truth is that cannabis oil cartridges can’t be recycled. That’s because vape pens and cartridges require so many materials in small quantities to produce just one. In most cases, a typical vape pen will require up to 30 different parts: from glass to batteries, coil, ceramic, and much more, which is why it isn’t as simple as tossing a used pen or cartridge into the recycling bin. Because of the complexity of this situation, traditional recycling facilities still don’t have the right resources to deal with them.
It is also illegal for cannabis businesses to have drop-off bins; for one, vape oil cartridges are seen as contaminated products, which forbid them from being tossed into recycling services. Additionally, the unconsumed oil that remains in the vape pen cartridge no matter how much you try to finish it, can still be collected by the black market and resold. For example, in California, the cannabis waste regulations state that only certain cannabis waste management companies are allowed to process it.
What Can You Do To Be A More Environmentally-Friendly Vape Consumer?
Don’t feel helpless; there are steps you can take to reduce your impact on the environment while still enjoying tokes from your favorite vape pens. The best thing you can do is to invest in a high-quality refillable vape pen. Though the actual refilling will take some effort, you will be able to stop another pen or cartridge from ending up in the landfill.
There are also numerous sustainable cannabis oil and vape pen brands out there. Just like caring consumers like you, many brands are committed to staying away from single-serve products.
Educate yourself on materials that go into making vape products. Batteries that make use of cobalt or nickel cathodes are the most dangerous for the environment; aside from that, they are also toxic and can cause harm to human and animal health when disposed of incorrectly.
It also helps to proactively look out for green dispensaries. Many of them offer discounts and incentives for customers who want to recycle their vapes; they also usually cooperate with manufacturers so to make it easy for customers to bring items wherever convenient – not necessarily back to the dispensary you bought it from. However, these kinds of dispensaries aren’t as common as we’d like them to be, so just reach out to your local cannabis community to see if they know of others.
It’s also important for regulators and the proper authorities to implement laws making it easier for consumers in their area to dispose of vape pens, cartridges, and batteries responsibly. Though its just as important for cannabis entrepreneurs to come up with sustainable products, the responsibility doesn’t lie solely on them. Firefly CEO Steve Berg even went as far as teaming up with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Bureau of Cannabis Control to encourage lawmakers to create amendments in state cannabis laws that cater to recycling programs. “The original legislation did not really consider what happens to vaporizer cartridges after the sale, and these were things that could actually be recycled if the laws would permit,” Berg told the Californian. “Every state is different but it seems all states have this issue of not addressing the recycle aspect in their initial regulations.”