In recent times, the term ‘vaping’ has come to the fore more often in trends and discussions. Just in case you’re not quite familiar with what it entails, vaping refers to the new way to smoke―the electronic way.
It involves inhaling a vaporized fluid from an electronic device; an e-cigarette (also referred to as a vape pen or pod).
This vaporized fluid―called an e-liquid―is usually a concoction of about four or more condiments, including nicotine, propylene glycol, vegetable glycerin, flavourings and some chemical additives.
These ingredients are, together, subjected to heat through a coil in a vaping device and this, in turn, produces the vapour that is inhaled.
There are various kinds of e-cigarettes (mods and pods), but the various manufacturers of this device have managed to streamline it to two major types of pods―disposable pods and semi-disposable pods.
These are small, compact pods that come with a built-in battery that is fully charged and storage of e-juice that is nonrefillable. As the name implies, once the battery―which cannot be charged―runs out, the pod is disposed of.
Also, various disposable pod brands specify the number of puffs that can be derived from their product. Otherwise called closed pod systems, these e-cigarettes are said to offer the same experience and feel as a conventional cigarette.
Semi-disposable pods, otherwise referred to as open pod systems, offer the storage of e-juice that is larger and refillable. Hence, the pods are usually bulkier. The battery of a semi-disposable pod usually has a capacity that is higher than that of the disposables and it can be charged through a USB cable.
These pods have a longer lifespan, as they are detachable and can be maintained and reused rather than be disposed of.
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Environmental Implications of Using a Disposable or Semi-Disposable Pod
As vaping becomes more popular by the day, it has also become important to consider the effects that the choice of the vaping device has on the environment.
Disposable pods, since they are made of plastic, currently constitute a large chunk of plastic waste in climes where their use has now become prevalent. This waste referred to as vape waste, pose a daily threat to the environment. According to Truth Initiative, the sales of disposable e-cigarettes nearly doubled, from August 2019 to May 2020, as opposed to that of prefilled cartridge products which saw a decline in sales. This points to the fact that the use of disposable pods is on the rise. So, it can be said that the seeming preference for disposable pods will mean a higher production of vape waste.
Vape waste poses a threat in that:
- the disposable pods are hardly properly disposed of
- plastic doesn’t biodegrade like organic material
- the pods can’t be recycled together with other plastic waste due to the threat posed by the residue of nicotine, and other chemicals, left in the used pods.
- part of their components includes lithium-ion batteries and the coil that does the heating.
Semi-disposable pods, however, have been found to be a better option, as they are more eco-friendly. Apart from the fact that these pods can be charged, and are mostly used and maintained for a longer period, most semi-disposable pods or open pod systems are usually enclosed in an aluminum shell. Although some are made of non-recyclable plastic, the maintenance they get and their longer life prevents litter and better enforces the heed to instructions for proper disposal.