Vaping, or using electronic cigarettes, not only pollutes the surrounding air, it also creates a new contaminated e-waste stream, says Philippines environmental watchdog group, BAN Toxics in a recent media release (27 February 2023).
“E-cigarettes and vaping products are in a unique position – although many people believe that they are safer than traditional cigarettes, new research shows that they still impact human health in various ways. Additionally, the growing number of disposable e-cigarettes is alarming due to its contributions to our growing e-waste problems,” said Jam Lorenzo, Policy and Research Specialist of BAN Toxics.
While the world is beginning to understand the health and environmental impacts of e-cigarettes, disposal of vaping devices containing batteries represents yet another environmental concern. The World Health Organization last year warned against the additional harm to the environment by improper disposal of e-waste from electronic waste from novel and emerging products, which generate toxic emissions and waste products.
“With vaping being a fairly new trend, there is a need for more research on its long-term impacts to human health especially among the youth. Still, there is a wealth of information regarding its potential effects – e-cigarettes may contain volatile organic compounds and heavy metals such as nickel, tin, and lead. This can lead to increased risk of damage to the lungs and cardiovascular diseases, among others,” BAN Toxics added.
Under Philippines policy guidelines, an electronic product with a battery that has reached its end-of-life is considered e-waste. Vapes are classified as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) because of their electronic components. The majority of plastic liquid cartridges are also not reusable or recyclable. Without proper management, these products can be hazardous. Spent vapes produce new amounts of e-waste, creating a waste problem needing consumer guidance and proper waste management policies, the group says.
The environmental watchdog calls for sound management of vape waste this early in the game. The group further recommends launching a public awareness campaign on the health impacts and disposal problem of vaping devices.
BAN Toxics urges vaporized nicotine and non-nicotine manufacturers to implement extended producer responsibility (EPR) for proper disposal of products, creating sustainable disposal channels, investing in schemes for recycling, and crafting sound policy regulations in place to prevent toxic pollution.