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  • Writer's pictureLiam Mcsherry

Vapes: A Disposable Horror Story

When you get a grasp of the disposable vape story, it bears all the hallmarks of a classic horror movie. An invisible danger that creeps into our everyday lives, with plenty of material for some solid montage action, a dumb twist and an uncertain ending (cue cash-in sequel). Here’s my pitch.

Opening scene. It’s all good.

Hoorah for vapes, a great alternative to cigarettes! Lots of benefits and we might even see fewer butts on our high street (drops in potential for alternative movie early doors) with smokers switching to reusable vapes instead of the smoking sticks. David Lynch paradise vibes.

Wait, what’s that?

Where are all those mutlicoloured tube thingies coming from? What are they? I saw a few on the high street but now they’re everywhere. Playgrounds, parks, bus stops, trains - they’re everywhere. A bit like those mysterious shiny silver capsule things (Marvelesque world building going on). But no one seems bothered by them so maybe they’re fine, right? I might do some investigating….(cue internet searching, library visiting montage)

Getting a bit scared now

Oh my days, those weirdy tube things are disposable vapes! You smoke ‘em and chuck ‘em (bin optional) and it turns out they’re not compostable or biodegradable.

But what’s inside…..

Look behind the curtain and horror of horrors, disposable vapes are electrical items (cue stern string music or 80s synth) complete with lithium batteries, copper and High Density Polythene (I won’t go into the other stuff that’s in there otherwise this movie will be classified an 18 rather than the sweet spot 15 we’re pitching for). So these materials mean they are classed as Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE). I’ve got a bad feeling about this…..

And then the frights come thick and fast

Eyes opened, you’re running through the house of horrors and stat after stat jumps out at you (insert weapon of choice)

A recent study suggested more than half of vapes are thrown directly in the bin. Up to 1.3 million single-use vapes are thrown away each week (Material Focus)

Vapes are the fastest growing e-waste category in the UK (Material Focus)

Doctors say children are being targeted by e-cigarette companies, with bright packaging, exotic flavours and enticing names. (BBC)

And now for the dumb part

“No, don’t open that door; don’t go into the basement” I hear you scream. Too late…. One of the dumbest things about disposable vapes is that each one uses .15g of lithium. The same material used in electric car batteries. A material that’s in high demand with dwindling resource levels.

A perfect opportunity to develop a circular system I hear you scream! But over 1.3 million single-use vapes are thrown away every week, and this accumulates to 10 tonnes of lithium a year, equivalent to the lithium in batteries inside 1,200 electric vehicles (Material Focus).

The sequel

The good news is that there’s a load more press and awareness around disposable vapes. There are growing calls for the product to be banned, and the vape industry to take more responsibility and develop more effective recycling solutions. But just like Vecna, the dark side gets stronger and disposable vapes are heading to landfill in growing numbers.

But we can all be heroes and do our bit to spread the word about disposable vapes and dispose of them responsibly (at your local recycling centre) like any other electrical item. Happy Halloween.


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