Collection boxes and free postal parcels directly to the recycling centre. These are some of the initiatives taken by British vape companies to increase the recycling of disposable cigars. But in Sweden, too, intensive efforts are being made to make weighing more sustainable.
"Right now the ball is in the court of the authorities, who have to approve our model," says Marius Arnesen, CEO of e-cigarette provider Norse Impact.
Sales of single-use cigarettes are growing rapidly, not only in Sweden but worldwide. But at the same time, demands for sustainability are increasing. The environmental impact of small lithium batteries ending up in ordinary waste bins or highly concentrated nicotine residues leaking from disposable vapes lying on the ground can be significant.
As Vejpkollen previously reported, the companies in the UK has invested in various solutions, ranging from collection bins in shops to direct delivery via the national postal service. But initiatives to promote single-use recycling are also taking place in Sweden. Both Vont and Norse Impact have developed models to make this possible. However, progress is slow, according to Marius Arnesen, CEO of Norse Impact, which supplies disposable vapes to companies such as Direkten.
"We have contracted with Bower for a single-use vape recycling programme. They have a system in place and can actually start immediately. But first we have to get everything ready from the authorities, the recycling process has to be approved from various sources before we can take the full step. It takes as long as it takes", says Marius Arnesen, to Convenience Stores Sweden News.
"It is important that companies take responsibility"
The Norwegian company Norse Impact has grown rapidly in the Swedish market for recological nicotine productsIn 2022, Norse acquired Swedish Eurobrands Distribution (owner of the cigarette shops). Norse thus became one of the largest distributors of vape products in Sweden and today has, among other things, delivery agreements for disposable vapes with Direkten, a chain of 166 shops.
"Our goal is to offer products to replace harmful tobacco smoking. But for us it is also important to take environmental responsibility for the products." says Marius Arnesen.
Many different parts
A disposable model consists of different parts that need to be utilised in different ways. The two central parts are the lithium battery and the e-liquid itself (which is embedded in a filler material to keep the system sealed). This makes a recycling process quite complicated: it involves batteries, which are regulated in one way, and nicotine, which is regulated in a completely different way. In addition, different nicotine variants may have different labelling under the EU CLP register, which in turn requires different measures depending on how toxic it is considered to be. The most common forms of nicotine in disposable models are considered acutely toxic and require a handling authorisation under the Chemicals Act.
"All this means that recycling is far from free. There must be clear agreements. The authorities have to tell us how they want it and then the customers have to agree to it, of course," says Marius Arnesen.
Several methods of recycling
The recycling models that have recently emerged in the United Kingdom is based on individual manufacturers taking responsibility for ensuring that single-use items are collected and properly recycled. Companies like Totally Wicked provide their stores with collection boxes and co-operate with recycler Veolia. The major Chinese manufacturer SMOORE (Vaporesso) has signed an agreement with Royal Mail that allows users to send their used disposable models free of charge by post, directly to the recycling centre. This scheme also includes a deposit reward of one free e-cig for every ten devices returned. However, such a reward system cannot be introduced in Sweden due to legislation," says Marius Arnesen.
"In England they have different conditions, in general, when it comes to harm reduction products. So it's a different challenge to persuade customers to recycle here."