Sustainable waste management company Biffa has announced the launch of its UK-wide disposal, collection and recycling solution for single-use vapes.
More than 1.3 million non-rechargeable vapes are disposed of in the UK every week – but confusion about their ability to be recycled means many wrongly end up in general waste or as litter. Under strict WEEE ‘waste electrical and electronic equipment’ rules, vapes must be disposed of at a household recycling centre, a designated collection facility or at the shop where they were bought. The lithium batteries they contain are a pollution risk and a fire hazard, and retailers could be fined up to £5,000 per store for not having a vape return system in place.
Biffa’s new Vape Takeback scheme allows consumers to safely discard single-use e-cigarettes via in-store bins, tackling litter and helping shops and supermarkets comply with the law.
As part of its Vape Takeback service to retailers, Biffa will:
- Supply branded point-of-sale containers of different capacities
- Collect used vapes at least once a quarter, more frequently if needed, meeting NWFD4 requirements
- Notify retailers ahead of collections so they can get the paperwork ready
- Make collection schedule, completion and any wasted journey reports available via myBiffa
- Offer fixed national rates depending on pack size, or can be bolted on to existing Biffa small WEEE takeback services
Biffa is also providing vape return bins at dozens of other locations across the UK, including airports, motorway service areas, NHS sites, universities and colleges, railway stations, distribution centres, shopping centres and offices.
The vapes are taken by Biffa to an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF) to be dismantled into their constituent parts – battery, casing, electronics, nicotine pads – with each being treated separately. Up to 80 per cent of the vape device can be recycled.
Daniel Barrett, of Biffa’s Reactive Services team, said: “It is vital that single use vapes are disposed of properly via trusted Approved Authorised Treatment Facilities. Far too many end up in landfill or being incinerated, preventing perfectly good material like lithium and plastic from being recycled back into new products.
“Until now, there have been limited options for businesses looking for a compliant solution to this problem, with only a handful of small scale regional and national options available.
“Our comprehensive Vape Takeback scheme represents another important initiative from Biffa aimed not only at supporting our customers to better address and increase their recycling efforts but demonstrating our own commitment to playing a key role in contributing to the UK’s Net Zero targets by reducing landfill and emissions.”