Whilst we know there are issues of significant concern in our community due to vaping, we also acknowledge that the increased incidence of vaping has created a need for better management of waste associated with this habit. Council is therefore trialling a six-month vape recycling program that allows residents to dispose of vapes safely.
Although originally designed as a harm reduction tool for smokers, the increasing prevalence of vapes has created new social and environmental problems. In the City of Port Phillip, we are finding vapes discarded in our environment and as contamination in our garbage and mixed recycling bins.
Because vapes contain many different parts and materials, they cannot be recycled in kerbside mixed recycling bins, nor can they go inside garbage bins. When they do, they can cause fires and injury as well as environmental damage. Vapes can only be disposed of safely through specialised recycling programs.
How you can recycle vapes
From Monday 19 February, residents can drop off vapes and vials / pods (empty or full) at St Kilda Town Hall. Residents will find a dedicated bin in our reception area, alongside our other waste and recycling bins, near the entrance to our gallery. Vapes will then be safely transported and recycled by our processor.
Three types of waste in one
There are many types of vapes, but most fall into two categories, rechargeable and disposable. Both these varieties contain three main types of waste, and all of these are harmful if they reach our environment.
Electronic waste (batteries and circuit boards)
If vapes are discarded as litter, they will eventually start to degrade. In the process, toxic compounds from the circuit boards and batteries leach into the environment, polluting soil and water. When this happens, these highly sought-after compounds are also wasted and prevented from being reused and contributing to a circular economy.
‘E-liquids’ inside vapes contain several hazardous chemicals including nicotine. If they enter our waterways, they can harm aquatic life and contaminate water.
Plastics used in vapes cause several problems. Firstly, they aren’t designed to biodegrade. If they do find their way into our environment, they simply break down into smaller pieces known as microplastics. These find their way into storm drains and pollute our waterways and wildlife. If discarded as litter, the plastic may also leak nicotine and other chemicals into the environment or be eaten by wildlife or pets, causing harm or even death.
New vaping regulation
We are aware that changes to vape regulation have recently come into effect. We are trialling a vape recycling service so that any vapes in circulation can be recycled safely at their end of life.
Disposable vapes: The Australian Government has banned the importation of disposable vapes starting 1 January 2024. Those that were imported before this time can still be sold until stocks run out.
Re-chargeable vapes (intended for therapeutic purposes only): These will continue to be legally sold through pharmacists after 1 March 2024. Eventually, these refillable vapes will also reach the end of their life as the batteries inside them wear down. These will need to be disposed of and recycled appropriately.
For more information on changes to vape regulation, please refer to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s website.