Stiiizy can do better. Period. They can start by actually implementing state-wide recycling programs, whether it be for cash-back or not. That immediately would be a huge step for reducing the waste they are responsible for, especially considering their newest line of 100% disposable LIIIL Stiiizys, which are literally just e-waste generators. Their next step has got to be transparency about their manufacturing processes– I just don’t trust there is sustainability happening there. Realistically, they should be aiming to create the most efficient and quality battery possible and be open about where they’re sourcing their materials. Their commitment to social justice, while appreciated, comes off as performative when the full scale of their company, from manufacturing to distribution is accounted for.
The Stiiizy battery body is made of an aluminum alloy, meaning its outer durability should hold up over time against light wear and tear, being dropped, etc. Inside, there is a 210 MH rechargeable battery via micro-USB cable that comes in the starter kit. The inner hardware is produced by ‘ALD Cigarette’– of which information is heavily lacking. The only information about the actual hardware contents is its heat-resistant ceramic coils that never burn, meaning there’s less risk of health issues and the battery is meant to be long-lasting. The battery is not waterproof, meaning if water-damaged, it immediately becomes waste. Additionally, despite being rechargeable, the battery is still reliant on the electricity grid, which relies in part on the burning of fossil fuel, i.e. air pollution.
Stiiizy’s manufacturer, ALD Cigarette, has a page on its website called “Environment,” which is very vague and does not point to any proof of environmentally-friendly practices besides some certifications. They do have an Environmental Management System Certificate, but this does not indicate sustainability, more so the efficiency of their manufacturing which is highlighted on their website. Stiiizy batteries are exclusively compatible with Stiiizy disposable pods. While the manufacturing for these pod’s contents is located locally in California and Stiiizy prides itself on vertical integration, this is no excuse for the plastic waste created with each emptied pod. Vape recycling is an increasing problem, as many companies don’t offer an empty pod or broken battery program. While Stiiizy claimed they would offer a cash-back recycling program ‘soon’ as of June 2019 via their Twitter, there has been no update on this since. Stiiizy promotes people to save their empty pods via Instagram and calls for users to share their Stiiizy “graveyards” for a chance to enter giveaways of Stiiizy batteries, merch, etc. Maybe in the future, they will actually implement a recycling program and meet their promises of sustainability.
Stiiizy itself as a small company (>100 employees) is considered to be somewhat progressive, probably due in part to their financial partner. The company is financially backed by Shryne Group, Inc., which focuses on California cannabis enterprise, meaning they invest money in cannabis companies. According to their website, they are “committed to social justice” and claim they are helping build stronger communities. Shryne Group acknowledges the decades of injustice perpetrated by the War on Drugs and federal Prohibition of marijuana and works with two “equity partners,” whose role is left somewhat vague and come off as tokenizing. Examples of their community commitment are Stiiizy’s San Francisco flagship dispensary employees unanimously ratifying a union contract in 2020, opening the first Latina-owned dispensary, and Shryne donating $100,000 to local non-profits. However, the company’s 2.6/5 star rating by former employees on Glassdoor sends mixed messages about the workplace culture, upper management, and COVID-19 safety, despite their relatively high wage per hour and insurance benefits.ALD Cigarette operates its three manufacturing bases out of the Bao’an district of Shenzhen in China. The employees of this company live onsite in dormitories. The “benefits” listed on their website for employees are 5 days of paid leave per year, recreational facilities, skill training sessions, promotional opportunities, and incentive policies– note that no healthcare plan is included whatsoever for these workers who are devoting their lives to this company. The rest of their labor practices are unknown and no information could not be found online about their hours or pay, which is never a good sign.ALD Cigarette, just as their name suggests, is a huge contributor to the ‘vape’ world, both nicotine and cannabis devices. These devices do not have an end of life besides landfill even if they aren’t specifically made to be ‘disposable,’ meaning ALD and Stiiizy are undoubtedly contributors to plastic pollution and e-waste. Their huge hat in the tobacco ring also is problematic, considering Big Tobacco’s predatory marketing and racists tactics that disproportionately affect BIPOC communities. Stiiizy supporting ALD Cigarette ironically counteracts a lot of the supposed dedication to social justice.