Plastic waste from vaping is now polluting beaches and other natural environments, and may be finding its way into the ocean, Earther reports.
An estimated 1-2 billion plastic Juul pods find their way into the environment each year, making them some of the most prevalent forms of litter found everywhere from beaches to city sidewalks.
Even for more environmentally-conscious vapers, disposing of vape pens and pods can be a challenge.
The single-use plastic nicotine pods aren’t recyclable and companies like Juul have yet to come up with an environmentally friendly alternative.
The influx of plastic pods isn’t the only problem facing the industry. The vape “sticks” themselves also contain heavy metals and residual nicotine, a hazardous waste.
These substances can leak into the environment, harming plant life and creating water pollution, according to anti-tobacco organization Truth Initiative.
Furthermore, Juuls are powered by lithium-ion batteries, which can harm the environment by damaging water systems and polluting well water. Mining for the substances that make up lithium batteries can also destroy the landscape and poison nearby cities.
Currently, several small initiatives are working on temporary fixes to the pod disposal crisis, but scientists, researchers and concerned citizens are looking for a more permanent solution.
“It’s not like you’re doing less damage to the world by vaping vs. smoking,” environmental philosopher Yogi Hale Hendlin told Earther. “I think a lot of vapers are under that misconception.
You can read the full article from Earther here.