Biffa launches vape takeback scheme

Biffa has launched a national disposal, collection and recycling solution for single use vapes.

The new takeback scheme will allow consumers to discard of vapes and single use e-cigarettes via bins at various locations around the UK including retail destinations, airports, NHS sites, universities, railway stations, distribution offices and offices.

Once dropped off at a collection point, Biffa will take them to an approved authorised treatment facility (AATF) to be dismantled into parts: battery, casing electronics and nicotine pads which are then treated separately. Around 80% of the vape device can be recycled, Biffa said.

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.”


Material Focus has estimated that around 1.3 million single use vapes are disposed of in the UK every week but many end up in general waste or as litter due to confusion around its ability to be recycled.

Biffa explained that “under strict WEEE 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, the company added.


The move from Biffa follows that made by its rival Veolia, which launched a takeback scheme for shops selling vapes in April (see letsrecycle.com story).

Veolia said at the time that legislation covering the disposal of vapes and disposable e-cigarettes falls under the UK’s WEEE Regulations where vapes are classed under Category 7, Toys, Leisure and Sports Equipment.

Defra has said it is its intention to give vapes their own product category as they pose different challenges to dismantle and recycle compared to other WEEE in the category, particularly  as they contain hazardous materials such as lithium and nicotine.

‘Smooth transition’

A spokesperson for Biffa said: “We’ve enjoyed a great relationship with Epping Forest district council over the past ten years, helping residents achieve some of the highest recycling rates in the UK.

“We will be working with the council to ensure a smooth transition, which includes the option for all staff to move into the new council service. We will reallocate the vehicles across the business as required.”

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