Binned Vapes are Causing Chemical Fires—Here’s How to Recycle Them Instead

Vapes and e-cigarettes are now a very popular alternative for smokers in the UK. Businesses of all shapes and sizes have quickly become familiar with these products, prompting new workplace changes to account for different smoking habits.

The product concept is fairly simple. Soak a cotton-wrapped, high resistance coil with e-liquid from a pre-filled pod, then heat the coil using a lithium battery to vaporise the liquid and simulate the draw of a cigarette.

Disassembling and safely recycling these devices, however, is a far more complex and labour-intensive operation. As a type of WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment), vapes and e-cigarettes cannot be mixed with other wastes and require a separate waste container for disposal.

Due to the battery encased within the device, explosive chemical fires are caused by incorrect disposal of vapes and e-cigarettes. Put simply, these devices must not be placed in any skip or bin under any circumstances.

This is a UK-wide issue for the waste and recycling industry, and we are committed to being a part of the solution. Our safety flyer is available online and free to download.

Recycling vapes and their lithium-ion batteries is the best way to prevent fires and it also extends the lifespan of our planet’s limited resources, bringing us one step closer to a circular economy. We can only achieve this by working together across all UK sectors.


How do I recycle my disposable vapes?

The vapes and e-cigarettes market has seen dramatic growth over the past decade, leading to 1.3 million single-use vapes currently being binned every week. However, public infrastructure has not kept up.

Last year, according to research from our industry partners, over 50% of the UK public reported that they did not know how to properly dispose of these devices.

Domestic consumers are demanding a more straightforward route to disposal, but presently the only consistent route for UK households still relies on individuals taking their own vapes to their local HWRC (Household Waste Recycling Centre).

Businesses, on the other hand, can easily access reliable vape and e-cigarette waste management.  Wherever you are in the UK, Kenny Waste Management offer a range of convenient recycling solutions to suit your project, budget, and space.

Our customers value our best practice approach to compliance and recycling. Based on your sustainability needs, we are working in partnership with a state-of-the-art Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AAFT) to safely recycle all vape and e-cigarette types from anywhere in the UK.

Whether you are a national construction company, a large retailer, or local organisation, we can help you stay complaint and keep your essential vape recycling within your waste management budget.


Contact our team today!


Kenny Waste Management can provide secure, separate solutions for your vape, e-cigarette, and battery waste recycling. Act now and help us to eliminate fires by ensuring that your devices are safely recycled.


What are the risks of incorrect disposal?

Vapes, e-cigarettes, and other devices that contain lithium-ion batteries pose a severe fire risk and must not under any circumstances be placed in any skip, wheelie bin, or non-specified container.

As soon as the anode connects with the cathode in a discarded device, the battery undergoes an explosive process called thermal runaway. The resulting chemical fire is extremely difficult to extinguish.

As such, any vape or e-cigarette poses a serious fire risk as soon as it becomes damaged. This can occur in the compaction mechanism of a bin lorry, the shredding of mixed waste for further processing, or even in day-to-day situations where a vape has become compromised. Separate, secure storage is the only viable option.

We have decided to take a recent incident, which cost us considerable time, energy, and resources, as an opportunity to raise awareness round this very important issue that is affecting the waste and recycling industry across the UK and beyond.

On Friday 26th May 2023, a mixed waste load being transported by one of our social enterprise vehicles in Greater Manchester caught fire.

This created a disruption to the motorway, public services, and our own fleet operations at a critical time of day before the bank holiday weekend. Thankfully, our driver reacted quickly to safely disconnect the ejector trailer, limiting the damage to our asset and the risk to his personal safety.

Emergency services quickly took control of the situation. After the fire brigade had extinguished the chemical fire, the trailer was allowed to be driven down the closed motorway. Our clean-up crew awaited police escort and the load was safely tipped at one of our own facilities.

Subsequent investigation revealed that a discarded vape or e-cigarette is the most probable cause of this incident.

Batteries and battery-operated devices are now a leading cause of fires in waste collection vehicles and waste processing facilities.

Common examples of other items include: Electronic toothbrushes, device chargers and powerbanks, shavers and trimmers, powertools, flashlights, handheld vacuum cleaners, gaming controllers, bluetooth headphones and earbuds, and other wearable devices such as smart watches.


Disposing of these items incorrectly presents the same risk as placing a smouldering BBQ in the waste.


How do I find the best vape and e-cigarette recycling solution for my business?

Our most popular solution safely holds up to 12kgs of mixed vapes, which translates to approximately 750 units. We find that this option can be tailored to almost every scenario. Collections and deliveries are bespoke to each customer’s needs.

This solution is fully inclusive of delivery, collection, treatment, and Hazardous Waste Consignment Note.

If for any reason these standard Vape Recycling containers are unsuitable for your site, project, or business, we can help you select another option from our range. Just get in touch — we are happy to assist and identify the perfect vape recycling solution for you.


Tel: 0161 790 3737


Kenny Waste Management