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The Shared Crisis of E-Cigs and Cannabis Vapes

The cannabis vape and e-cigarette industries have significant differences, and we’ve discussed this separation extensively to emphasize the significant divide between the two. Unfortunately, a lack of awareness about this often leads retailers to inappropriate partnerships, assuming that their experience in the e-cig industry translates seamlessly to the cannabis sector. In reality, the differences are quite pronounced.

However, when it comes to the vaping devices themselves, there are shared similarities between e-cigs and cannabis devices, and in many cases, that is not a positive thing. So, let's delve into some commonalities.

First and foremost is e-waste, particularly lithium batteries. Both cannabis vapes and nicotine vaping devices function by heating a liquid (oil or e-juice) that transforms into vapor for inhalation. In both cases, lithium batteries are used to heat the substance, but they are discarded after just one life cycle, contributing significantly to environmental threats.

Additionally, vapes generate hazardous waste. Besides producing plastic and electronic waste, vapes are considered hazardous due to the dangerous nature of both nicotine and cannabis oil. Even fully-used vape cartridges contain liquid and should not be disposed of in regular trash. Existing federal hazardous waste regulations complicate the proper collection and transportation of used vape cartridges. Speaking of regulations:

There are gaps in regulations and safety compliance. While the cannabis and nicotine industries are becoming more stringent, the vaping industry remains in a gray area. The slow evolution of state regulations has allowed gray and black markets to thrive, resulting in vaping products being inaccurately labeled and improperly supplied. Vaping bans, as the sole form of regulation, have been proven to be ineffective and, as a result, fostered even bigger growth of the unregulated black market, driving the entire industry underground.

There are also no regulations, standards, or barriers to entry for vape manufacturing in China for both e-cigarettes and cannabis vapes, creating an unstable supply chain that is marred with inconsistency and varying gaps in safety and quality.

Furthermore, the environmental impact is substantial. Despite being labeled as disposable, these products are often not disposed of properly due to the reasons mentioned earlier. Companies are reluctant to invest in sustainability and educate end-users, creating an impending crisis. Governments are beginning to recognize the issues and may resort to outright bans on vaping products in their countries due to the lack of control over their creation, manufacturing, and consumption. Disposables, which are not designed for recycling, have become the fastest-growing ecological problem globally.

Another concern is greenwashing, a tactic pioneered by Big Tobacco. The e-cigarette and cannabis vape industries realized that consumers are aware of the harm they cause and resorted to marketing stunts, making false claims about deforestation and hazardous waste recycling. However, with the rise of ESG practices worldwide, it won't be easy to make green-related claims without proper evidence.

As someone aptly said, "Nothing we use for only a day should pollute our environment for hundreds of years." The increasing number of electronic products, as unsustainable as plastic, is now a pressing environmental issue. Whether it's e-cigarettes or cannabis vapes, the growing environmental problem they create is substantial, prompting governments to take decisive action. The disposables need to be disposed of responsibly, and we hope to collectively address this issue.

#cannabisindustry #vapecommunity #environmentalimpact

AVEO Team
February 12, 2024

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