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Aussie Recycling Startup Finds a Silver Lining in The Dark Clouds of a Vape Waste Epidemic

What CasuallyLoaded Does

CasuallyLoaded is an Australian recycling startup manufacturing innovative rechargeable powerbanks, by breathing new life into the lithium-ion batteries found inside single-use vapes. Using their EcoSig initiative they collect discarded devices from nightlife venues and process them, saving mountains of practically brand-new batteries from a future in landfill.

The Current Landscape

Currently in Australia there are numerous traditional recycling programs and a handful of e- waste and battery specific recycling programs. However, CasuallyLoaded is the first, and as of mid 2024 the nation’s only recycling pathway specifically setup to process vapes. Although a number of their competitors which specialise in processing traditionally hard to recycle items, such as toothbrushes and televisions, now also accept vapes.

Unlike CasuallyLoaded, they are not setup to cost effectively do so, and as a result will usually charge a processing fee, bypassing the need to directly repurpose the recovered and still healthy batteries into something profitable. Instead, choosing to crush and chemically refine them back into their base materials. This process is environmentally taxing, expensive, and something CasuallyLoaded is able to avoid by directly repurposing the batteries.

Company Birth Story

CasuallyLoaded and its EcoSig vape recycling initiative was born in September 2022, as a result of it’s at the time 20-year-old founder, Harry Willingham observing a problem while spending an afternoon with friends.

It seemed that almost overnight droves of people had abandoned smoking cigarettes and taken up vaping. However, the problem was that unlike the e-cigarettes of the past this new generation of vapes were sealed single-use devices, designed to be bought, used, binned and replaced.

Being a lifelong electronics enthusiast, he collected a handful, carefully disassembled them, and confirmed his suspicion that the batteries inside were in fact all healthy, fully rechargeable, brand-new lithium-ion cells. At that point, after doing some research online he decided that because there was no existing pathway in Australia to recycle vapes, he was going to create one.

The Solution

CasuallyLoaded recycles vapes by providing nightlife venues across major cities in Queensland a service called EcoSig. This service gives participating nightclubs, pubs, bars and event spaces free 3D printed vape recycling bins, which allow staff and patrons to sustainably dispose of any depleted, littered or confiscated vapes found within the venue.

The collected vapes are then safely destroyed and their batteries are recovered, cleaned, tested and thanks to their small, lightweight design remanufactured by CasuallyLoaded into rechargeable portable powerbanks. A product that solves a problem, is mass marketable, has a unique selling point and most importantly can be sold at a profit.

Reinvesting said profit is what drives CasuallyLoaded forward, allows them to create vape recycling bins, and continue to expand their EcoSig initiative into all major cities across Australia. It allows them to create more adaptable powerbanks, push their marketing to new heights, and continue streamlining and automating their processing and manufacturing procedures, so they can keep tackling the onslaught of vape waste in Australia.

A Founder Quote

“If you see the world has a problem, don’t just assume someone else is going to come along and solve it, try solve it yourself.” – Harry Willingham, Founder & Head of CasuallyLoaded.

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