| Hazardous waste, Waste management

Fire warning with battery and WEEE disposal – take charge today!

With the recent fires over this last week the nation has awoken to some of the dangers that come from these unusual turns in the weather. Even without the hot temperatures, we felt it important to share a reminder about the risks of incorrectly disposing of batteries and WEEE (waste electrical and electronic equipment).

Lithium-ion batteries, which are classified as WEEE are extremely flammable. They are not limited to large and small household appliances. All WEEE must be disposed of and treated separately and appropriately at an Approved Authorised Treatment Facility (AATF).

These items must not be placed into skips, bins or other waste containers. Sometimes these batteries can be contained within other items, making them a bit more obscure and difficult to identify. One example is wheels on your car on average have 19 lithium-ion batteries in them to help read tyre pressures.  If lithium-ion batteries are punctured, damaged or exposed to high temperatures they have the ability to combust and start fires – which can cause extensive environmental damage from air emissions and water pollution.

Battery fires have been a problem for a long time, but with WEEE becoming the fastest-growing waste stream, coupled with an increase in the number of items using batteries, fire frequency is on the rise.

Shockingly, batteries are one of the biggest reasons behind fires in waste vehicles – which has risen 30% since 2017.

Industry body British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) is engaging with the Environmental Services Association (ESA) and businesses like ours in the waste sector to educate the public and organisations on the correct disposal and recycling of batteries. The guidance says that WEEE, in particular lithium-ion batteries, combustible material in furnace-ready scrap and frag feed mixed with MHW 1 & 2, must not be mixed into other waste streams.

At Reconomy we work closely with our customers to give them the tools and guidance needed to properly and safely segregate waste. By setting up a dedication collection for batteries you are firstly following health and safety and duty of care responsibilities, but secondly benefit from recycling battery waste which allows for parts to be broken down and used again.

Get in touch with Reconomy if you are interested to find out more about battery collections or wider support for waste and resource management.