An editorial in the American Journal of Public Health suggested the “health of the environment” should be evaluated when debating the overall effects of vaping.
“E-waste is a huge problem globally,” University of California, San Francisco’s Hogi Hale Hendlin wrote in a statement. “Anytime we make something that is disposable, we’re essentially stealing from the future.”
To produce an e-cigarette, the process begins with mining and manufacturing the products. Then, after using, the products must be thrown out. All of those factors could play a role in disturbing the environment and, in turn, playing a detrimental role in the future, said Hendin, an associate for the university’s Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education.
Not including online sales and purchases at vape shops, more than 58 million e-cigs and complimentary refills were purchased at domestic retail stores three years ago, according to the 2017 report by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Of the 58 million purchased devices, around 19 million products were produced as single-use devices. What happens to the e-cigarette e-waste? Generally, it’s relocated to a third-world nation, which must deal with the reclaiming, reprocessing, and incineration of the trash.
In a phone interview with Reuters Health, Hendlin said: “Most of these devices don’t include instructions on how to dispose of the products and the ones that do often include a convoluted process, and it gets incinerated at the end, which isn’t ecological at all.”
E-waste is created from used e-cigarette capsules and pods. The disposed of products leave battery acid, bromines, lead, and mercury behind to tarnish the environment, said Hendlin, who offered possible solutions.
Hendlin called one effort to clean up e-cigarette e-waste an “extended producer responsibility” program. This model calls for manufacturers to collect the discarded material and dispose of them properly.
For the future of the industry and our environment, it’s time everyone acts more responsibly.
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