How to Properly Dispose of Cannabis Vaporizers

Vaporizers are increasingly popular, quickly becoming many cannabis enthusiasts’ go-to method for medicating. From the Volcano vaporizer to the PAX pen and recently disposable pens, vaporizers are taking the market by storm.

Vape pens work by heating cannabis flower or concentrate to 302-446°F, a temperature high enough to activate THC and CBD, but low enough that no combustion occurs. The result is a vapor that contains active substances without the potentially harmful smoke produced by traditional inhalation methods. 

Vaping is also more discreet than smoking, producing almost no visible clouds and significantly reducing cannabis’ immediately identifiable aroma. 

The Downside

While vaporizers have solved many of the problems cannabis users run into, one aspect of the device has been largely overlooked: its impact on the environment. The rise of disposable CBD, delta-8, and THC vape pens has resulted in a lot of hazardous material being thrown away. 

Lithium-ion batteries are typically used to power vape pens, as they produce slim, lightweight products that last a long time between charging. However, the same technology that allows you to conveniently fit a vape in your pocket is contributing to chemical pollution. Each battery contains hazardous, toxic, and corrosive materials like mercury, cadmium, lithium, and lead. Disposable cartridges also contain hazardous materials.

“Nickel and chromium components were detected in all devices, and others contained copper, lead, tin, gold, silicon-rich rubbers, or fluorinated microplastics,”  said California Department of Public Health scientists Jeff Wagner and Wenhao Chen, in a recent article published by PLoS One. 

While many people are aware of the dangers vape pen components pose to the environment, information on how to responsibly dispose of them is not always easy to find. Here are a few tips on how to properly discard vape pen cartridges and batteries and find alternatives to disposables:

Resolve to Recycle

Vape batteries are defined as “electronic waste.” Check with local municipal authorities on where the nearest electronic waste recycling centers are located. Often, local dispensaries and smoke or vape retailers have information on the nearest recycling center. Some shops even have a designated area to drop used devices.

Choose Reusable Devices

Rechargeable vape pens are a great solution for users looking to minimize their environmental impact. Many rechargeable devices use flower instead of concentrates, but both are available. Instead of reaching for the cheaper and sometimes more convenient disposable pen behind the counter, opt for a reusable, rechargeable device. It may cost a few extra dollars for the initial purchase, but you will save money in the long run. 

Go for Gummies

There are a plethora of options when it comes to choosing how you medicate. Edibles come in a variety of strengths and mediums and are available in CBD, THC, delta-8, or a mix. Edibles also allow you to choose your exact dose and are even more discreet than using a vape.   

The way people consume cannabis has, like most things, changed due to technological advances. Now is the time to take stock of the potential impact those advances have. A move toward more sustainable use is possible, and the more we collectively consider responsible disposal and medication methods, the closer sustainability comes to being a reality. 

This article was first published in the spring 2022 issue of Cannabis & Tech Today. Read the full issue here.

  • Patricia Miller is the Managing Editor for Cannabis and Tech Today. She covers science, technology, and policy shaping the legal cannabis industry. She is an avid kayaker with a proclivity for picnicking. Follow her work on Twitter @_PMiller.

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