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Aberdeenshire launches vape recycling initiative

May 21, 2024

The new drums filled with vapes and vermiculite (Photo: Facebook/Aberdeenshire Council)

A new and safer method for recycling vapes has been introduced at all household recycling centres across Aberdeenshire, the council has said.

This initiative aims to mitigate the risk of fires associated with improperly disposed of lithium-ion batteries found in vapes.

The disposal of vapes has become one of the fastest-growing sources of electrical waste in the UK. Research by Material Focus indicates a staggering increase in the number of disposable vapes being discarded, rising from 1.3 million to five million per week within just one year.

Aberdeenshire Council has installed specialised drums at its recycling centres specifically designed for the safe storage of vapes and e-cigarettes. These drums are layered with vermiculite, a mineral known for its fire-retardant properties, to secure the lithium-ion batteries during storage and transportation.

Vermiculite plays a crucial role in this new system, effectively minimizing fire risks and ensuring that the materials remain stable. The mineral is also reusable, adding an element of sustainability to the process. This method separates vape collection from the general Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) containers, enhancing safety measures.

Residents are advised not to dispose of vapes in kerbside collection bins or battery bags due to the high risk of fire and contamination. Instead, they should take their vapes to designated recycling centres.

Veolia, the company that introduced the UK’s first nationwide vape collection service, has been awarded the contract for collecting vapes from Aberdeenshire Council’s recycling centres. Once collected, the vapes are transported to Portsmouth, where they are manually dismantled and recycled. Around 94 per cent of the materials from the vapes are recovered through this process.

For vapes with removable batteries, residents are encouraged to remove the battery and dispose of it in dedicated battery recycling receptacles, further streamlining the recycling process.