While we are seeing more news about the dangers of e-cigarettes, little has been studied regarding the issue of waste.
E-cigarettes create electronic waste and the plastic in them ads to the overall problem of micro plastics in our environment.
According to Nick Mallos, Sr. Director of the Trash Free Seas program at Ocean Conservancy, the traditional problem of cigarette butts on beaches and in the ocean is starting to give way to increasing waste from e-cigarettes and cartridges.
Nicotine residue, and other chemicals in the cartridges could create as much of an environmental concern as the degrading plastic. The lithium batteries in the electronics can also pose a fire risk at waste and recycling facilities causing damage and worker safety issues.
Jeremiah Mock, an associate professor at the University of California, San Francisco, studies tobacco use. In a recent study he surveyed the waste around high schools and found a significant amount of discarded e-cigarette products.
“Now we have the fourth generation of devices with built-in lithium ion batteries that, you know, people are told by the manufacturer is disposable, it’s thrown in the garbage or wherever. There’s no information about how to dispose of them properly,” Mock said.
Some manufactures of the products do have information on their websites to encourage users to dispose of them properly. They suggest the batteries be taken to recycling centers that collect that type of waste, but because the products are considered hazardous, the battery must be separated from the rest of the product. This can actually be dangerous for people to do at home.
Also, efforts to encourage recycling e-cigarette waste have not been widely available.
People are calling for manufacturers to take responsibility for the waste their products create. They are calling for products to be more sustainable or create programs where customers can send used products back to the factories for proper recycling.
Ultimately, producers need to design products that are more durable, repairable and reusable. Heidi Sanborn, executive director of the National Stewardship Action Council says, if companies can’t do that, they need to create end of life programs to eliminate the waste.
Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico, and Rep. Alan Lowenthal, D-Calif., introduced The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act. The law would put the cost of disposing plastic products on manufacturers. They would require a ten cent refund to buy back the spent plastic (including e-cigarette waste) from consumers.
Ultimately, people need to learn to dispose of the used products properly before the problem becomes overwhelming.
For more information and the full article go to: https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/cigarettes-highlight-challenges-dealing-plasticwaste/story?id=68890487#:~:text=E%2Dcigarettes%20and%20pods%20for,microplastics%20that%20harm%20ocean%20ecosystems.