Nicotine and vape waste

Businesses that handle nicotine-containing vape waste must manage and dispose of these wastes properly. This applies to:

  • Convenience stores.
  • Grocery stores.
  • Other vape retailers with nicotine-containing waste.

Many products that contain nicotine designate as a dangerous waste when discarded. Businesses must handle these wastes as dangerous waste.

This includes:

  • FDA-approved nicotine-replacement therapies: Nicotine-containing patches, lozenges, and gums (these may designate as a Washington state-only dangerous waste).
  • E-cigarettes and vape pens: Electronic nicotine delivery systems that contain a battery, tank, or cartridge that delivers nicotine as a vapor.
  • E-liquids and vape liquids (or, what is referred to as "vape"): Nicotine-containing liquids or prefilled cartridges added to e-cigarettes for consumption of the vapor.

How do you know if a nicotine waste is dangerous waste?

Businesses need to designate their waste in order to determine this. Part of the designation process includes determining if the waste is one or more of the following:

Nicotine wastes are pharmaceutical wastes

These nicotine-containing wastes meet the definition of a pharmaceutical (WAC 173-303-555):

  • Any drug or dietary supplement sold for human or animal use
  • Any liquid nicotine (e-liquid) packaged for retail sale for use in electronic nicotine delivery systems (e.g., pre-filled cartridges or vials) as a P075 listed dangerous waste

It is important to note that the EPA definition of pharmaceutical, which determines how e-cigarettes are regulated when they become waste, does not alter and has no bearing on how FDA or others regulate e-cigarettes as products.

How do businesses manage vape waste properly?

Retailers that qualify as health care facilities

If you sell or distribute pharmaceuticals, including nicotine-containing products, you are considered a health care facility

Retailers that qualify as non-health care facilities

If you manufacture, mix, or package electronic nicotine device system liquid products (e-liquid), then you are a non-health care facility.

How do businesses dispose of vape waste properly?

Businesses must ship nicotine dangerous waste to a permitted treatment, storage, and disposal facility.

  • Do not put vape liquid wastes in the trash. 
  • Do not burn vape waste.
  • Do not pour vape waste down the drain, sink, or toilet.

Unused nicotine products have the potential to be legitimately recycled into new nicotine products.
Batteries removed from devices can be disposed of as universal waste.