"One-off models are not the future"
So says Fritte Vanecek, who was the first in Sweden to distribute disposable vapes on a large scale. Now he and the Ecigg chain, along with several other companies selling disposable models, are investing in more sustainable systems that can replace disposable vapes in the future.
Disposable models, or "engångsvapes" as they are known in Swedish, are now available for purchase in every neighbourhood. every second convenience store. Since their introduction to the market almost four years ago, sales have skyrocketed. At the same time, the products have led to an increasingly fierce debate about both accessibility and sustainability. A single-use cigarette contains both nicotine and lithium batteries - two components that should not end up in the regular rubbish bin. But a solution to this problem has been difficult to promote among retailers.
"Already when we negotiated the first contracts four years ago, the issue of recycling was on the table. But the interest in doing it was extremely low. Most people were uninterested in even talking about it, especially as they didn't know whether the products would sell or not," says Mr Perez. Fritte Vanecek, product manager at the e-cig chain that supplies brands like N-One and Frunk Bar to many retailers in Sweden.
Has become 'mainstream'
But from being virtually alone in the disposable cigarette market, Fritte Vanecek notes that the concept has taken root in Sweden. Today, in 2023, several companies, from local distributors to major tobacco companies, have entered the market. Fritte Vanecek notes that the vision of making e-cigarettes "mainstream" has become a reality.
"The disposable models are a very good entry-level product for smokers who have no idea what e-cigarettes are. It is also a product that can be sold in all shops where cigarettes are available. That was the challenge just a few years ago, getting convenience stores and petrol stations to understand the concept. And now it's working," says Fritte Vanecek.
Disposable weapons not the future
At the same time, he recognises that the environmental aspect will inevitably become part of the whole discussion on vejping, alongside the debate on young people who vejp.
"I don't really think disposable models have a bright future. But they have served their purpose well, by establishing e-cigarettes as part of the grocery trade. They show that it is possible to make money from e-cigs and that many people are interested in trying alternatives to cigarettes."
New pod systems instead
Instead, he believes the simpler pod system will return. A smaller rechargeable battery and pre-filled tanks, a mix between a refillable e-cig and a closed system.
"We already have such a product on the market. Let's see if it's acceptable to customers," says Mr Perez. Fritte Vanecek.
Been around for a long time
Pre-filled pod systems have already been on the market for a long time. They became known around the world when the American vejp company Juul took over a large part of e-cigarette sales in the US in 2018 with its minimalist pod system. The term 'to vejpa' often became synonymous with 'to Juul', especially in the media.
Lack of interest in the past
In Sweden, the reception of pre-filled pods was not as warm. Similar pod systems were mainly sold in dedicated vejp shops where Swedish manufacturer Vont was an early adopter. Today, Vont is mostly focused on single-use models, but will probably re-launch the pod system as market conditions change. Sustainability is at the centre, says Vont's CEO. Ramin Warda.
"We are also working to move away from the disposable seal. Right now, we are developing a new pod system, which will be based on our disposable systems." says Ramin Warda to Vejpkollen.
Expensive recycling a death blow
Fritte Vanecek and Ramin Warda are joined by another competitor in the disposable model market in Sweden. Marius Arnesen is the CEO of Norse Impact, which, like the E-cig chain, supplies disposable vapes to Direkten and others. He believes that recycling disposable models risks being too expensive in the end. Norse themselves are working to introduce a sustainability system together with the company Bower, an online company that also cooperates with Swedish Vont to simplify the recycling of disposable models. Marius Arnesen makes a similar analysis of the market as Fritte Vanecek and Ramin Warda.
"Over time, I think pod systems will take over more and more. They are both cheaper and smarter from a sustainability perspective. Today, disposable models are popular, but as it stands today, they risk being banned, unless the problems of recycling are solved" says Marius Arnesen to Vejpkollen.