Veolia launches nationwide vape recycling scheme

Veolia has launched a nationwide vape recycling service where retailers can sign up for an in-store customer drop off container, which the waste management company will then collect.

Veolia will provide customers with vermiculite, a mineral that 'will minimise fire risks' from the lithium-ion batteries

To counter any fire risk, Veolia said it will provide retailers with individual containers of vermiculite, a mineral that “will minimise fire risks from the lithium-ion batteries contained within the vapes”.

Once collected, Veolia told letsrecycle.com that vapes will be taken to “various specialist UK facilities”, where they will be manually dismantled, and components sorted, before the materials are treated and processed.

The first vape retailer to sign up is Totally Wicked, whose nationwide network of 154 stores will be equipped with a drop off point for consumers to recycle their used vapes. These drop off points will accept any brand and any type of disposable and rechargeable vape or e-cigarette.

‘Safe avenue’

Donald Macphail, chief operating officer  for treatment at Veolia UK said: “Two vapes are thrown away every second. They might be called disposable, but they can and should be recycled.

“Our new nationwide vape collection service will provide a safe recycling avenue to retailers who provide the mandatory take back schemes for vapes and ensure that we can extract the valuable materials contained within and mitigate any fire and environmental risks.”


Vapes have been rising in popularity in recent years as a smoking alternative but present a huge fire risk to the sector as the batteries in them can catch fire when processed.

The Environment Agency has said that whole vapes must not be incinerated

Research commissioned by Material Focus, has identified that 1.3 million single-use vapes are thrown away every week

Once shops who sell vapes sign up for Veolia’s scheme, the waste company said collections will be scheduled according to demand.

Highlighting the environmental benefits of the scheme, Veolia explained recycling of vapes could save more than ten tonnes of lithium that could be recycled into new products from the batteries, equivalent to enough of the metal to make batteries for 1,200 electric cars.

Recycling the lithium would save up to 72 tonnes of carbon emissions compared to using raw materials, as  producing one tonne of lithium from ore produces around nine tonnes of CO2 emissions.


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.

Veolia has said it supports the Environment Agency’s 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.

The government has said it would consider changes to ensure the vaping sector “plays its part” in financing the collection and treatment of their products as part of the upcoming review of the waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) regulations (see letsreyclce.com story).

Liam Humberstone, technical director at Totally Wicked said: “We are delighted to be working with Veolia to roll out the UK’s first nationwide vape collection service. Vaping is widely recognised as the UK’s most effective means of quitting smoking, as well as being very much safer.

“However, reducing our sector’s environmental impact remains a very important goal at Totally Wicked. We are committed not just to providing means of responsible disposal, but also urge vapers to refill, recharge and reuse their vapes in preference to single-use ‘disposable’ products.”

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