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Gallatin County stubs out e-cigarettes from landfills

The decades-long decline in cigarette smoking means fewer butts littering sidewalks, parks, and roadways. But increasing electronic cigarette use has driven the waste underground, literally. A new initiative aims to keep e-cigarettes out of Gallatin County landfills.

About 26 percent of youth and 6 percent of adults in Montana vape. That’s according to the state Department of Health. Health effects aside, disposable e-cigarettes create toxic plastic waste that ends up in landfills.

A new e-cigarette disposal program by the Gallatin City-County Health Department and its Solid Waste Management aims to reduce the number of e-cigarettes in landfills.

E-cigarettes contain lithium-ion batteries and electronic parts, meaning lithium, nickel, and cadmium could seep into the soil and water. Pod-based e-cigarettes use single-use plastic cartridges thought to disrupt hormones. In both, residual nicotine can contaminate soil and water.

Used e-cigarettes can be dropped at the Bozeman Convenience Site for free Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sarah Kanter Brown is the producer of YPR’s Field Days. A graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, Brown has worked at newspapers and magazines nationwide.