20 May 2024

New way to recycle vapes at all household recycling centres in Aberdeenshire

A new and safer way to recycle vapes is available at all household recycling centres across Aberdeenshire to minimise the risk of fire. 

Aberdeenshire Council’s recycling centres now have specialised drums that will be used to safely store vapes or e-cigarettes and layer them with vermiculite. 

Vermiculite is a mineral that minimizes the risk of fire associated with lithium-ion batteries, effectively safeguarding the materials during storage and transport. 

If it is not exposed to leaks, vermiculite is also entirely reusable and makes the collection of vapes much safer, especially now that they are collected separately from Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment containers. 

If the battery inside a vape is easily removable, then that battery alone can and should still be removed and disposed of in battery recycling receptacles. 

"...The vapes are manually dismantled and recycled at our partner facility in Portsmouth where we are recovering around 94% of all materials."
— A Veolia spokesperson

Vapes cannot be safely recycled in kerbside collections. They should never be put in any kerbside collection bins or battery bags due to the risk of contamination and fire. 

One recent and local example of a vape fire occurred in September 2023 when a collection of disposable vapes exploded during routine compaction at Westhill recycling centre after being incorrectly placed in a general waste skip. 

Councillor Alan Turner, chair of the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), said: “Vapes are an ongoing and ever-increasing issue for the environment in terms of litter, material resources, and the risk of fire. With this solution in place, there is now a safer way to store and recycle them. 

“If you are not sure where the drums are at your local recycling centre, please feel free to ask a member of staff and they will be happy to help you.”  

ISC vice chair Councillor Isobel Davidson said: “Despite being marketed as disposable, vapes are actually made from valuable materials like aluminium, copper, and lithium. The processes for creating such materials can be very carbon intensive, which makes recycling vapes even more important.”  

Binned vapes are part of the fastest growing sources of electrical waste in the UK. The number of disposable vapes being thrown away in the UK has grown across a single year from 1.3 to five million per week, research from Material Focus has shown. 

Recycling just ten tonnes of lithium from these products could supply enough material to produce batteries for approximately 1,200 electric cars. 

Veolia—who rolled out the UK’s first nationwide vape collection service—were awarded the contract for the collection of vapes from Aberdeenshire Council’s household recycling centres. 

Veolia now facilitates the collection and transportation of the vapes to a recycling facility where valuable materials such as lithium, nickel, and manganese will be extracted. Other materials will be manually dismantled, cleaned and recycled to resume their role in the manufacturing industry and help toward building a circular economy solution for vapes. 

A Veolia spokesperson said: "Veolia is proud to be at the forefront of recycling this difficult to treat waste stream, supporting over 380 household recycling sites across the UK to safely collect vapes for recycling.

"Once collected, the vapes are manually dismantled and recycled at our partner facility in Portsmouth where we are recovering around 94% of all materials. 

"This innovation is just a part of our determination to discover and deliver solutions for ecological transformation" 

For more information about Aberdeenshire Council’s household recycling centres, visit 

Specialised drum