In light of the growing popularity of disposable e-cigarettes, Italy has recently launched its pilot recycling programme.
The initiative involves the Italian Tobacconists Federation (FIT), the local branch of the international distributor, Logista, and the Ministry of Environment and Energy Security (MASE).
Launched in November, the Recycle-Cig pilot programme is currently operational only in Rome and Milan, but plans are to eventually involve more than 60,000 points-of-sale in the national territory.
The disposable e-cig collection system, set up by Logista and the FIT, is meant to be a free service that does not oblige consumers to purchase a new device – a so-called 0:1 take-back scheme.
Federico Rella, vice-president and corporate affairs director at Logista Italia, told ECigIntelligence that the interest in Recycle-Cig has been very high. The company has already received enquiries about participating in the programme from approximately 26,000 tobacconists across Italy, despite it starting as a test only in Milan and Rome, where collection points are available in around 60% of tobacconists.
Rella said: “The disposable e-cig recycling bin represents the culmination of an agreement of Logista with FIT, MASE and the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) collection consortium. It works off the fact that tobacconists have become the collection point of an organised recycling circuit that recovers and disposes e-cigs or heated tobacco devices.”
For every 1m pieces taken back, the full programme aims to recover 40 tonnes of batteries, 36 tonnes of plastics and 15 tonnes of other materials.
Making it as easy as possible for consumers and tobacconists
The creators say the 0:1 take-back system, with its zero obligation to buy a new device, provides a strong incentive to use the recycling containers. And, to increase ease of use, Logista has introduced a feature in its app that consumers can use to locate the nearest tobacconist equipped with a disposable e-cig recycling bin.
The company has also launched an awareness campaign promoting the use of disposable e-cig collection points, utilising local news media outlets. Plus, glass decals and consumer notice information will soon be provided inside the points-of-sale involved in the pilot programme.
Rella highlighted that Logista’s primary investment was the establishment of a comprehensive computer support system. This network facilitates the exchange of information with the MASE regarding the quantities of products to be recovered, Rella said, adding that this means tobacconists will not need to go through lengthy registrations or extensive paperwork, as Logista manages the certified network.
“Essentially, the tobacconist only needs to allocate space for the bin and, when full, use the software to arrange a pick-up,” he said.
Rella explained that the estimated operational cost for starting up the initiative is about €2.5m so far, but the exact figure will depend on operational factors, including administrative and production as well as communication and design elements, with the awareness campaign being crucial to promoting disposable e-cig recycling.
As Recycle-Cig started just a couple of months ago in November 2023, there is currently no quantitative information about its performance. The initial results of the operations are expected to be available in mid-2024, with a comprehensive assessment of the pilot programme’s success later in the year.
– Dario Sabaghi ECigIntelligence contributing writer