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Battery Fires: Risks to the Waste Industry

an organised image of different coloured batteries

Battling Battery Fires: Risks to the Waste Industry

The Growing Problem

In our fast-paced, technology-driven world, batteries power everything from our smartphones to our electric vehicles. But what happens when these power sources reach the end of their life cycle? Improper disposal of batteries poses a significant risk, particularly for recycling centres and bin trucks across the UK. In this blog, we’ll delve into the dangers of battery fires and explore strategies to mitigate these risks.

There has been a concerning trend of recycling plants throughout the United Kingdom experiencing recurring fires, which can largely be attributed to the improper disposal of waste batteries. As the use of lithium-ion batteries continues to expand to power a multitude of electronic devices, a significant challenge arises when these batteries reach the end of their useful life. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common for businesses to dispose of their batteries haphazardly among general waste and recycling bins. Consequently, recycling plants and bin trucks are grappling with the repercussions of hundreds of battery-induced fires.

Understanding the Risks

The mismanagement of waste batteries and electronics poses one of the most pressing emerging problems within the realm of waste management. It is imperative that we adopt more responsible and sustainable methods for disposing of such waste, in order to mitigate the potential environmental and economic consequences.

To mitigate this risk, it is crucial that we prioritise responsible battery management and disposal practices. We strongly recommend that batteries are collected separately from all other waste streams to minimise the potential for accidental combustion. By adopting a more proactive approach to waste management and investing in sustainable solutions, we can ensure the longevity and success of the recycling industry, while safeguarding the health and safety of our communities.

Impact on Recycling Centres and Bin Trucks

In comparison to other common fire hazards present in recycling facilities, such as propane tanks, aerosols, and discarded fireworks, waste batteries pose a unique challenge due to their small size and inconspicuousness among large volumes of waste. Even a single lithium-ion battery within a singing greeting card or a discarded vape can easily ignite a fire. Bin trucks, in particular, are at risk due to the compaction process, which can crush batteries and increase the likelihood of ignition.

These incidents not only pose a physical danger to workers and the surrounding environment, but also represent an existential threat to the recycling industry as a whole. The impact of a fire can be devastating, resulting in significant business interruption and potentially causing lasting damage to a company’s customer and supplier relationships.

a blue container which has a green and white label saying battery pod on the front

Our Battery Recycling Solutions

To support our customers in adopting responsible battery management practices, Waste Experts offer a range of approved containers designed for the compliant storage of electrical waste and batteries at your facility. Our container solutions cater to diverse needs and requirements, spanning from smaller Battery PODs suitable for the storage of portable and household batteries, to larger Automotive and Industrial (A&I) battery containers.

As an Approved Battery Treatment Operator (ABTO), we possess the expertise and capabilities to accept and treat all battery chemistry types. Our clients can therefore benefit from a simplified service solution, without the need for on-site sorting and segregation. Our comprehensive recycling operation is founded on a two-stage recovery process, which involves the manual removal of all batteries from electronic devices prior to entering our mechanical recycling process. This meticulous approach guarantees the recovery of all recyclable materials, such as metals, glass, and plastics, while also providing enhanced protection to our recycling facility and workforce from any potential risks of a battery fire.

We take pride in offering a comprehensive and sustainable solution to our clients, which promotes responsible battery disposal practices and safeguards the longevity and success of the recycling industry.

Our team of experienced professionals is well-equipped to provide expert advice and guidance on best practices for responsible battery disposal and other waste management issues. We are dedicated to ensuring that our clients are fully informed and equipped to make informed decisions regarding their waste management practices, and to maintain compliance with all relevant regulations and guidelines.

We encourage our clients to take advantage of this valuable service and to reach out to our team to schedule a complimentary waste disposal audit. By partnering with us, our clients can rest assured that their waste management practices are fully compliant with all relevant regulations, and that they are doing their part to promote environmental sustainability.

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