Don’t let your vapes go up in smoke!

The vape collection container in front of other recycling collection containers

To reduce the impact of vapes thrown in the wrong bins, Southend-on-Sea residents can now recycle their vapes at local Household Waste and Recycling Centres (HWRCs).

New research from Material Focus revealed that 3 million vapes are thrown away every week in the UK. Vapes contain a range of valuable materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel and manganese which when thrown away are lost forever. Each single-use vape contains on average 0.15g of lithium and with over 1.3 million single-use vapes thrown away every week this accumulates to 10 tonnes of lithium a year, which is equivalent to the quantity of lithium needed for 1,200 electric vehicle batteries.

Safe disposal for residents at their local HWRC means that those valuable materials can be extracted and recycled. 

This dedicated recycling service will also provide a safe disposal avenue for items that are a serious fire risk. The batteries in vapes can catch fire when damaged and with a rise in vape-use, this is a growing risk across the country. Research published by Material Focus shows that batteries not removed from electrical items cause more than 600 fires in refuse collection vehicles and at waste sites every year.

Stuart Atkinson, Senior Contracts Manager, Veolia UK said: 

“As two vapes are thrown away every second in the UK it’s vital that we capture as much of the valuable materials within them as possible to help tackle their environmental impact.

“Discarded batteries are also a severe risk of fire in collection vehicles and waste management facilities, which poses an avoidable risk to our staff so I would urge residents to make the most of this new recycling service and remind them to never place vapes or items with batteries in their black or pink sacks.” 

Collection containers have been installed at both Stock Road and Leigh Marshes recycling centres. These are open 9am - 5pm from Monday to Friday and 8am to 5pm at the weekends (Stock Road closed on Wednesday and Leigh Marshes on Thursday). As the HWRCs are for the use of Southend residents only, visitors will be asked to present a valid proof of address within the City before being granted access. 

To find out more information about the sites as well as access the handy cameras to check our busy the sites are click here.  

Cllr Meg Davidson, deputy leader and cabinet member for environment, said:

“The council is proud to support Veolia's new vape recycling initiative. This initiative encourages responsible vape disposal at Household Waste and Recycling Centres. This reduces the impact on household waste and public bins and helps to keep Veolia staff safe from the fire risks of discarded vapes.

“Our residents will also be doing their bit for the environment by recycling their vapes. This means that valuable materials, including lithium and cobalt, can be extracted and recycled. These materials are used in most modern electric vehicles.”