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Vape waste pollution and tips for safe handling and disposal

Updated: May 10

Taking the necessary precautions when handling and disposing of vape and e-liquids not only helps avoid battery explosions, but can also reduce the threats to human health and the environment. Despite what you may hear from the media, vapes are not an environmentally-friendly alternative to cigarettes. They introduce plastic (which do not biodegrade), nicotine salts, heavy metals, lead, mercury, and flammable lithium-ion batteries into waterways, soil, and to wildlife.

Unfortunately, vape manufacturers fail to do their part in facilitating safe disposal of their products, and are not providing consumers with clear instructions on how to dispose of or handle their vape waste.

Almost half (49.1%) of young people don’t know what to do with used vape pods and disposable devices.*

Vape Fires & Explosions

Vape fires and explosions pose a threat to you and those around you, especially when they occur near flammable gasses or liquids, such as oxygen, propane or gasoline. Follow these tips to reduce the risk of vape battery explosions:

  • Consider using vape devices with safety features.

  • Keep loose batteries in a case, away from contact with metal objects, such as coins, or keys.

  • Never charge your vape device with a phone or tablet charger. Always use the charger it came with.

  • Never charge your vape device overnight or for extended periods unattended.

  • Replace wet or damaged batteries.

Discover more ways to help avoid battery or fire explosions >

Safe Handling & Environmental Toxicity

Improper handling of vape devices and e-liquids can lead to accidental nicotine exposure and poisoning. Follow these best practices to reduce dangers to human health and to the environment:

  • Never throw your vape device and e-liquid waste in the regular trash. Contact your local waste facility to see if they accept e-cigarettes.

    • If a vape waste program is not available, remove the battery (if possible) and bring the battery to recycling. Store all items, especially the rechargeable batteries, in a sealed container, and keep in a cool, temperature-controlled environment.

    • After the battery has been removed, bring the rest of the e-cigarette to a DEA take-back day event near you.

  • Never flush vape liquids products down the sink, which can seep into the water or ground and become a danger to wildlife.

  • Always handle used and discarded cartridges carefully. Liquid nicotine can be absorbed through the skin and cause accidental poisoning, which can be fatal to children.

This information is brought to you by the Partners for Prevention. For Teen resources on substance use and quit vaping support, visit and follow us on Facebook.

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