Suffocating planet! The environmental implications of the vaping industry

Suffocating planet! The environmental implications of the vaping industry

What many people already know is that tobacco product waste from cigarette butts is one of the most common forms of plastic waste suffocating the environment. Now, there is another detrimental threat facing our environment (much to the dismay of the Cape Town vaping community)– vape waste.

Vape waste creates three huge environmental issues:

  1. Increase in single-use plastics
  2. Increase in tech waste from their parts, including lithium-ion batteries
  3. Introduction of hazardous and toxic chemicals like nicotine into the environment when discarded

According to Tobacco Free CA, “vape waste is waste associated with vapes, including disposable vapes, pods or cartridges, e-liquid containers and packaging, and vape batteries. Vape waste is especially bad for the environment because it offers three forms of waste in one: plastic waste, hazardous waste, and electronic waste (e-waste).”All of these are viciously detrimental to the environment.

Plastic waste is already a problem in South Africa. South Africans create around 122 million tonnes of waste per year, according to data provided by Infrastructure News. Vapes don’t help the plight either. This is because the device body and pod design are made of unrecyclable plastic.
This kind of plastic is an issue because of its non-biodegradable nature. It’s been expressed that it can take up to a century for some plastic items to decompose. Adding to the waste, vapes are made up of certain heavy metals as well as nicotine that’s found in the flavour pods. The lithium-ion batteries are yet another waste concern.
Back in the day, cigarettes were a huge part of the social culture for the generations before. Today, a lot of young people have veered away from the tobacco movement and are armed with a vape at their sides. According to Truth Initiative, about one in five high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2020. There was a 1000% increase in use among high school students between 2019 and 2020, their findings further indicate, creating an upward trend toward the waste problem. In South Africa, people in the 16-24 and 25-34 age categories contributed over 55% share to the e-cigarette market in 2018 already, with an upward trend projected to be 18.5% by 2024 according to Prescient & Strategic Inteligence.
So, if you’re a vaper, perhaps all of this is something to consider next time you find yourself debating over mango-ice or raspberry flavour, as the implications of your actions are more significant, as you now know.
Source: Capetown etc