While we’re probably still a few decades away from having a true understanding of the health effects of vaping – the smoke you have when you’re not smoking – it’s becoming abundantly clear that e-cigs are doing the planet precisely zero favours.
Coming under a particularly bright spotlight at the moment is Juul, which is apparently just the coolest way to get nicotine into your system. Like, all the kids are doing it.
The thing that makes the Juul so popular is that it’s lightweight, compact and cheap, which all adds up to it being both difficult to disassemble and – unlike, say, an iPhone – not really worth much when it comes to recycling.
— JUUL (@JUULvapor) May 7, 2018
Perhaps most problematic is that it is powered by a lithium-ion polymer battery, which, according to the Australian Battery Recycling Initiative, “are classified as Dangerous Goods under the Australian Code for the Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road and Rail.”
However, it’s not exactly a broadly known fact that the battery in your vaping device is powered by a Dangerous Good.
As Jim Puckett – executive director of the Basel Action Network, a company that aims to protect people and the environment from e-waste – told Mashable, “Lithium-ion batteries will lose their capacity at some point. And when it dies, people will likely throw it in the trash, absent an aggressive program to prevent that.”
So what do Juul have to say on the matter? Their FAQs address the matter in a not-entirely-satisfactory fashion:
How do I dispose of a JUUL device?
We design our device to be reliable and strive to exceed our 1-year Limited Warranty period – this is not a disposable item like many other e-cigarettes. For disposal purposes, JUUL should be treated as any other consumer electronic device, such as a cell phone. We suggest following your city’s local recommendations for disposing of a lithium-polymer rechargeable battery.
On the one hand, that’s a bit of a cop-out, isn’t it? Put it back on “your city’s local recommendations” to get rid of the multi-faceted device and all of its hard-to-dispose-of pieces.
But, on the other hand, how many companies do provide a viable means by which to dispose of their product in an environmentally-friendly fashion? Sure, most Australian cities have easy means to recycle cans and bottles, but it’s not like the soft drink and alcohol companies funded these services so as to ensure the billions of vessels they sell each year are doing the right thing by Mother Earth.
Of course, when there’s a patch of garbage floating between Hawaii and California that The Ocean Cleanup says contains “1.8 trillion pieces of plastic” weighing in at an “estimated 80,000 tonnes”, we’re not exactly living in an age where ignorance and apathy toward responsible waste disposal can be excused.
— JUUL (@JUULvapor) May 9, 2018
As Mashable have suggested, perhaps Juul – which generated $224 million in sales last year – “could set a meaningful agenda about e-waste”.