Firstly, changing to e-cigarettes means that you’re continually using the same cigarette for each use, meaning that there is no wastage from the cigarette butt. In Canada alone, nearly 8,000 tons of butts are discarded every year, and they count for 38% of litter worldwide. The reason for so much waste can be easily explained - conventional cigarette butts are made from cellulose acetate, a type of plastic that doesn’t degrade easily. Meanwhile, as e-cigarette is one device used repeatedly, there is less waste products and less litter on our streets.
However, electronic cigarettes are far more difficult to dispose of than simply putting them out and into a bin. The hardest part to recycle is the cartridge, which contains the flavours and nicotine, and simply throwing out the electronic parts isn’t safe for the environment. Many local collection points might accept these parts, but it would be best to check with your own collection as rules and regulations can vary from place to place.
Charging of e-cigarettes also presents an environment issue in itself; by drawing energy from the mains supply, we’re also increasing our use of electricity. Furthermore, safety concerns about using e-cigarettes whilst connected mean that the best plan is to charge only as long as needed. After charging, it’s always best to disconnect the e-cigarette before use and never leave the device to charge for long periods of time alone.
In short, e-cigarettes can help reduce litter across the world, but at the same time there are new things to consider when using e-cigarettes. As long as electronic cigarettes are safely disposed of when finished, they can help reduce the use of conventional cigarettes and be safer for the environment as well.