According to a 2014 report from the Centers for Disease Control, 3.7 percent of adults in the United States use e-cigarette devices. That’s more than 9 million people! E-cigarettes are electronic devices and require all of the protocols that other electronics do. Not only do their electronic components require proper disposal, but there is another e-cigarette component that poses an additional environmental threat.
E-cigarette devices all have the same 3 basic components: a chamber that holds the “juice”, a lithium-ion battery, and a heating element. Users can draw on the mouthpiece of the e-cigarette much the same way that they would draw on a traditional cigarette. This will activate the device’s processor which controls the heating element that vaporizes the juice. This process produces an aerosol-type substance that mimics smoking, but it is flavored however the user chooses.
Approximately 38 percent of the litter in our world is discarded cigarette butts, the filters of which take around 12 years to break down. Because of this, e-cigarettes tend to be more eco-friendly than their traditional counterparts. That said, there are two parts of e-cigarettes that actually do require hazardous waste removal: the juice chamber and the lithium-ion battery.
Some e-cigarette juice chambers are refillable with a heating coil that needs to be changed regularly. Others have changeable chambers. The juice contains nicotine. Any part of the device that comes into contact with the juice will then be contaminated with nicotine. Empty chambers and expended coils need to be disposed of properly. If e-cigarette components have any residual juice on them, they pose a risk to domestic pets and wildlife.
For the exact rules and regulations regarding safe e-cigarette component disposal, see your state and local laws. Many e-cigarette vendors will offer incentives to customers for turning in used parts so that they can be disposed of safely.
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