06 December 2023

Battery bags are for battery recycling only—not vapes

Aberdeenshire Council is facing a new recycling contamination problem as “disposable” vapes find their way into household battery collection bags.

Binned vapes are part of the fastest growing sources of electrical waste in the UK. Half of single-use vapes are thrown in the bin—in the UK, that’s over 1 million per week—enough to cover 22 football pitches per year.

There are no safe means of disposal for e-cigarettes or vapes using kerbside collections. They should never be put in any kerbside collection bins or bags due to the risk of contamination and fire.

The safe disposal methods for vapes are:

The appearance of this new contamination type could mean that some households’ battery recycling is going to waste as a result of others bagging the e-cigarettes among their batteries.

Councillor Alan Turner, Chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee, said: "From both a safety and an environmental standpoint, it is very important to correctly recycle vapes as small electrical items.

“In general, if you are not sure which container to place an item in, please feel free to ask our staff at the household recycling centres."

The council is investigating what measures it needs to take to reduce this new contamination type appearing in our weekly battery collections.

Vapes are made of some of the most valuable resources on the planet—steel, aluminium, copper, and lithium—which makes recycling them even more important. However, vapes are also classed as toxic waste.

It is not the first time that the council’s waste and recycling service has lost resources to vapes. This past September, a collection of disposable vapes exploded during routine compaction at Westhill recycling centre, having been incorrectly placed in a general waste skip instead of the WEEE container.

The Scottish Government is considering a ban on single-use vapes as part of plans to protect public health and the environment after Zero Waste Scotland estimated that up to 26 million disposable vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland in the last year, with ten per cent being littered and more than half disposed of incorrectly.

An increasing number of local authorities in Scotland are voicing support for a change in legislation, including Aberdeenshire Council that did so at Full Council on Thursday 29 June.

Batteries can be recycled from the kerbside every week in Aberdeenshire by placing them into a pink household battery recycling bag and leaving that bag on top of your bin being collected that week.

Free battery bags are available from your local household recycling centre, service point, or library. An empty battery bag can also be attached to any of your bins and the crews will supply a new roll should they have stock available.

For household recycling centre opening times, visit aberdeenshire.gov.uk/RecyclingCentres