Vape pen and e-cig disposal

Examples of e-cigarettes

E-cigarettes and vape pens are essentially the same type of device. They have a battery that powers a heating element or “atomizer” that vaporizes “juice” containing nicotine or other substances so that it can be inhaled. There is no standard type of device. The batteries and juice cartridges, tanks or pods come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes.

Juice, cartridges and pods

Bottles of juice used to refill tanks are generally plastic bottles from 1 to 4 oz., or 30-120 ml in size, although larger bottles are available. Prefilled cartridges or pods come in a wide range of sizes and colors. Nicotine containing juice is hazardous, so bottles and cartridges that are still full or partially full should be taken to your Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility for proper disposal. Contact your county to find out if they accept these items at HHW facilities or events.

Nicotine is dangerous and can be deadly if ingested or absorbed through the skin. All cartridges, pods and bottles containing nicotine should be stored well out of reach of children.

Illustration showing components of an e-cigarette

Cartridges containing THC, CBD or other marijuana derivatives

These may be placed in the trash. They generally have a marijuana leaf symbol on them, but not always. HHW facilities cannot accept illegal drugs.  

Batteries

Single use, non-rechargeable or “disposable”

Devices may be placed in the garbage when empty or damaged. These items are not recyclable.

Devices with rechargeable batteries.

Remove the cartridge or pod from the battery. Take the battery to a HHW facility or a Batteries Plus Bulbs location. Do not place these batteries in a rechargeable battery collection bin that is "unmanned" such as at the entrance to a store or public facility. It is illegal to place rechargeable batteries in the trash.

“Push button” vs. “draw” activated batteries.

Devices or batteries with a push button to turn on the atomizer are dangerous if left on. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to turn off the battery. Always turn off the battery when the device is not in use and before recycling it. If the battery is left on, the button may be pushed in when placed against other items in a pocket, purse or storage container. Most batteries will continue to heat the atomizer as long as the button is pressed. Vape pens and e-cigs can reach a temperature of 400° to 600° F in a matter of seconds. Paper and cotton can self-ignite at 451° F, so the devices can get hot enough to start fires.

Removing the battery from the outer case is a difficult task, generally requiring tools, so it is not recommended unless you are very familiar with how to do it. If a battery is removed from the outer casing, tape the terminals prior to placing the battery in storage or transporting it to a rechargeable battery collector. Let them know you have a push button vape pen battery when delivering it so they can set it aside for safe disassembly and packaging.