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Next generation problems: how to handle vape pens?

You cannot consider batteries without thinking about hazardous goods, according to Paul Hernley, engineer at US firm Battery Solutions.

Damaged lithium-ion batteries are now handled as universal waste. Under this classification, they can be stored up to a year, either mixed or sorted by type. ‘Given these specifications, Battery Solutions counts as a small universal waste generator,’ Hernley told delegates at the recent International Congress for Battery Recycling in Salzburg, Austria.

The engineer notes that consumer trends pave the way for new battery products and new end-of-life problems. ‘We’ve recently come across a new concern: what to do with e-cigarettes? Vaping, as it’s called, has gained popularity fast in recent years and young people are especially eager to substitute regular cigarettes with electric ones.’

It’s a waste stream that recyclers did not anticipate. It has meant the creation of a new battery waste category – one containing class 6 toxic chemicals. ‘We are currently processing vape products at a hazardous waste facility – at a notably higher operating cost, of course,’ Hernely says. ‘We don’t yet have an elegant solution for this new waste stream.’

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