Shanteya Hudson, Public News Service
Disposable vapes are posing a growing environmental threat in North Carolina and across the country, according to a new report.
The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund revealed that nearly five disposable vape products are discarded every second in the United States. These are the vape devices that come already filled with liquid and can’t be reloaded.
Lucas Rockett Gutterman, “Designed to Last” campaign director for US PIRG, said the group is calling for stopping the sale of these products because of their lack of recyclability and negative environmental impact.
“They have lithium-ion batteries that can’t be put in most e-waste take-back programs,” he said. “The DEA, which does take back most vapes, won’t take back these disposable ones because you can’t remove the battery.”
The report said the Environmental Protection Agency also considers them hazardous waste because of the nicotine e-liquid they contain, even after disposal.
Recently, the Food and Drug Administration sent warning letters to nearly 200 retailers for selling unauthorized products, including brands such as Elf Bar and Esco Bar that sell single-use vapes. Gutterman said advocates of tightening the rules are now looking to larger retailers to take responsibility.
“Big national chains – like 7Eleven, BP, Exxon and Chevron – all of them have had locations that are selling these unauthorized disposable vapes,” he said. “And they should do more to make sure that all of their locations are following the law, not selling these products and holding local stores accountable.”
He added that the rechargeable batteries in the disposable vapes sold each year consist of more than 23 tons of lithium. He noted that if this lithium wasn’t used for vapes, it could be used to create batteries for more than 26,000 electric vehicles.