Recycle vapes at HWRCs to avoid fire risks urges County Council

Hampshire residents can now recycle vapes at any Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC), helping to avoid disposal in general waste, which is a fire risk, and reduce littering

Aug 7 2023

Following the rise in vaping it is now estimated that around 1.3m single use vapes are thrown away each week, making it the fastest growing type of waste.  

Councillor Nick Adams-King, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Universal Services said: “Discarded vapes are an increasingly common eyesore in our villages, towns and cities, which creates tonnes of additional plastic litter. This is just one reason, alongside serious health concerns over under-age vaping, why the County Council is joining local authorities across the UK to call for a ban on single use vapes.
“To help tackle the environmental impact of vapes, all our Household Waste Recycling Centres can now accept reusable, refillable and disposable vapes for recycling. Most large supermarkets and some shops also have special bins where batteries, including single use vapes, can be disposed of safely. Anything containing batteries, including vapes, should never be placed in your waste or recycling bin at home, as they are inflammable and can spontaneously combust. Rogue batteries are the single biggest cause of fire in refuse trucks and waste sites, which poses an avoidable risk to staff and unnecessary cost burden on taxpayer-funded services. It can also mean a truckload of valuable recyclable material that were carefully sorted by residents going up in smoke.”

Household Waste Recycling Centres can accept all types of vapes and the guidance is not to dismantle the items in any way before disposal for safety reasons, unless the batteries can be safely removed for separate recycling. 

Single-use vapes contain lithium-ion batteries which can catch fire if broken. This is an increasing problem across the country, and research by Material Focus, a non-profit organisation which runs the Recycle Your Electricals campaign, found that more than 700 fires in bin lorries and recycling centres nationally were caused by batteries that had been dumped into general waste. In Hampshire, the County Council estimates one fire a month on average in a waste truck or waste facility can be attributed to a battery, faulty electrical item or disposable BBQ. A battery was the suspected cause of a significant fire at the Portsmouth Materials Recovery Facility in 2021 which closed the site for three months.