As the name suggests, traditional disposable vape pens are designed for single use – you vape the pre-filled e-liquid until it’s gone and then toss out the whole device. However, some disposable vapes now feature a USB charging port despite being marketed as “disposable“. This can create confusion for consumers used to throwing vapes away when the battery or juice is spent. So why are some companies adding rechargeability to disposable vape pens? Keep reading and let’s find out why!
Disposable Vapes Designed to be Discarded
The original design concept behind disposable vapes was maximum simplicity and affordability. Disposables contain the battery, atomizer, and e-liquid in one integrated, non-rechargeable device. When the battery dies or the juice runs out, it is time to discard the entire vape pen. This makes disposables extremely convenient – no fussing with compartments or chargers. Just open the package, vape, and toss when finished. It’s an attractive option for newer vapers or those who just want an inexpensive vape for infrequent use.
However, the lack of reusability does produce electronic waste and drive up costs for frequent vapers. Ultimately the convenience comes at the expense of sustainability. But disposables were deliberately engineered for single use by companies betting on consumer laziness trumping eco-awareness.
The Emergence of Rechargeable Disposables
Recently, some companies have started offering disposable vapes with a built-in USB charger to recharge the battery multiple times. At first, this seems counterintuitive – if it recharges, how can it be disposable? In reality, even these rechargeable disposables have a limited lifespan. The battery and other electronics are low-quality and designed to fail after a certain number of charges.
But the option to recharge definitely increases the potential usable time from a disposable vape pen from a few days to a few weeks or longer. For frequent vapers, this can translate into significant savings compared to continually buying truly disposable models. The environmental impact is also lessened with fewer total units being tossed in landfills.
Why Companies Add Charging Ability?
So why are brands churning out these pseudo-disposable vapes with recharge capacity?
For one, it appeals to consumer desire for value and reuse over waste and environmental impact. Even if shoppers aren’t radically eco-conscious, many still feel good about getting more mileage from their purchases. This “have your cake and eat it too” design caters perfectly to that mentality.
Secondly, reusable disposables represent a sly way for companies to make more revenue from a single purchase. With traditional disposables, customers can only vape that device until it’s depleted and then they have to buy another. Rechargeable models encourage the same person to keep reusing and recharging the same pen. This nets more value for the consumer but also guarantees repeat business rather than relying on multiple new sales.
Downsides to Rechargeable Disposables
While rechargeable disposable vapes offer longer usage potential and reduced waste compared to traditional disposables, they aren’t without downsides.
For one, they can confuse consumers who see “disposable” assumed to mean non-rechargeable. Unclear marketing and labeling on these products fails to adequately explain the distinction.
There are also safety considerations with asking consumers to recharge lithium batteries that weren’t designed for extensive longevity. Improper charging of any lithium-ion battery comes with fire and malfunction risks.
Lastly, just because a disposable vape can recharge a few times doesn’t make it sustainable. These are still disposable products at heart and will end up in landfills eventually. So while a step up from single-use models, rechargeable disposables shouldn’t be equated with reusable vape pens.
The Future of Disposable Vape Design
It appears likely that rechargeable disposable vapes are here to stay and may become the new normal, supplanting their single-use ancestors. There remain exceptions like Puff Bar that cling to the single-use-only model. But the value proposition of even limited reusability makes chargers a common feature consumers now expect.
Moving forward, hopefully, disposable vape manufacturers can find better ways to balance affordability and quality with less environmental impact through recyclable materials and clear labeling. With more states enacting disposal restrictions, the days of wanton e-waste from quick-fix disposables may be ending. Companies able to adapt their products to this new reality will have an advantage.
In summary, the rise of disposable vapes with charging capabilities reflects evolving consumer values, company revenue goals, and a marginally more eco-conscious approach. However, misleading marketing about reusability and safety concerns around lithium battery charging remain issues. Going forward, look for the disposable vape category to gravitate toward this rechargeable hybrid model while working to improve recycling and transparent labeling on par with reusable devices.
More vape charging myths: