Illinois EPA tackling next vaping dilemma: toxic waste

Herald & Review –

SPRINGFIELD – As people worry about the negative effects that electronic cigarettes and vaping pens may have on users’ health, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency is worried about the damage caused by discarded vaping devices.

A three-member team at the state agency is working on ways to prevent toxic materials in used e-cigarettes and vaping pens from polluting the environment and damaging human health.

The idea came a few months ago from James Jennings, an IEPA employee who works on the project and manages waste reduction and compliance.

“Even though this is advertised as a relatively innocuous alternative to smoking, there are hazardous waste, universal waste and plastics components of this that have real effects downstream,” Jennings said.

Interns Caleb Froidcoeur and Brock Titlow began researching the scope of the problem to see how the IEPA can work with vape shops, retail organizations and local governments to figure out the best ways to dispose of materials.

“Electronic cigarettes themselves are able to be classified as electronic waste because there’s a battery in them,” Froidcoeur said, “and they also fall into the hazardous waste category because of residual nicotine. That kind of poses a unique problem because they don’t fall into just one category.”

A toxic problem
E-cigarettes and vaping pens contain many different kinds of materials, each with their own waste regulations. E-cigarettes, which are small, disposable and closely resemble regular cigarettes, contain a battery, nicotine cartridge and a metal atomizer that turns the nicotine liquid into vapor.

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