FILE UNDER: NICOTINE DISPOSAL
What a Bunch of Garbage!
By Beth Neuling
As an industry that was born out of the desire to break free from Big Tobacco, we have done our very best to self-regulate. It has been our position from the very start that we should ask the questions of Vaping that we did not know to ask the Marlboro man. It was in that spirit that I set out on a quest of sorts to determine the proper disposal methods for our e-liquids, batteries, and devices, especially nicotine disposal.
I began with my local waste disposal company. You know, the guys who clank around in their giant man sized trucks at 4 a.m. Every. Single. Friday (when I should be sleeping in). Their official response after three transfers and a call back two days later was, “Our facilities cannot support the disposal of lithium ion batteries or liquid nicotine. We outsource that.” Umm…. Ok then. They went on to tell me that there are no standards or regulations for consumers regarding these products and seemed unnerved that I would ask what should be done instead of what is required by law.
When I called the company responsible for the outsourced materials their official response was, “how did you get this number?” Once I called a few more offices and landed accidentally in the public relations inbox, he returned my call after four days to tell me again that there are no requirements at a consumer level, but that manufacturers would certainly be held accountable for disposing of their products via a company like his. Sales pitch? Really, fellas?
By this point in my investigation I was fighting a headache. Nancy Drew made this seem like much more fun. I finally made a last ditch effort and contacted the Environmental Protection Agency. (EPA) The woman there was a breath of fresh air. (Hehehe…. See what I did there?) While she gave me the scripted answer, she was the only one to delve any further into my inquiry and seemed genuinely appreciative of our collective curiosity and integrity.
She let me know that, while business would be required to document materials via universal waste and recycling rules, there are currently no restrictions at the consumer level because they do not generate enough waste to be classified as hazardous. She went on to say, however, that nicotine is an acutely toxic hazardous waste on the “P List”. Now, to most of us that doesn’t mean anything. In her world, nicotine is classified as a discarded commercial chemical product and is generally something we don’t want to expose to children, unsuspecting garbage collectors, or ground water. In that same vein, her advice is as follows:
- Save your empty e-liquid bottles and batteries. Take them to your local hazardous waste collection. Most cities have days and locations where old bleach and unused medications etc., can be turned in for proper disposal.
- If you have larger amounts of liquid to dispose of, pour it into used coffee grounds or non-clumping kitty litter and place the result in a sealed plastic bag.
- Ask your local brick and mortar if they would be willing to collect and dispose of your waste along with theirs, although they may be more likely to accept batteries than liquid or bottles.
- Check with your local waste management for any regulations or advice specific to your district. (With any luck, yours will be more helpful than mine!)
While I did learn a few things along the way, what concerned me most on my latest quest is that my questions were met with skepticism at best. It is deplorable that we are vilified for wanting to move forward in a safe and responsible way. I want to take a moment to challenge anyone, especially outside of the vaping world, to encourage these inquiries. Had anyone done so with commercial combustible tobacco, billions of lives could have been saved.
Mahatma Gandhi most eloquently said, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. We will continue to ask the questions that we did not know to ask in the dark ages of cigarettes. Hmmmmm…… I wonder what the proper procedure is for a vented lithium ion battery. Maybe the fire department would be up for the challenge! We shall see.
Beth Neuling, a.k.a. Phoenyx
Beth is the mother of two beautiful children and a partner at Jungl-E-Juice of Louisville, KY. Beth will be joining the team with regular columns on a regular basis. Please welcome Beth to the family of Spinfuelers. – Dave
For more information you can visit:
http://www.heritage-wti.com/ – Heritage Thermal Services
http://www.oesitester.com.php53-13.dfw1-2.websitetestlink.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/OESI-low-res.pdf – OESI
http://epa.gov/wastes/conserve/materials/hhw.htm – EPA Household Waste Information
http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CFR-2012-title40-vol27/xml/CFR-2012-title40-vol27-sec261-33.xml -40CFR §261.33 40CFR§261.33 The P & U Hazardous Waste Lists