Up and down the country fires are happening in the back of recycling and waste vehicles, and at waste facilities, due to the incorrect disposal of batteries. New YouGov research released today has brought to light that shockingly in London only 40% of the public realise that, if damaged, Lithium-ion batteries can spark fires. As the nation declutters post Christmas, Veolia, the UK’s leading resource management company, is calling on the public to reclaim the value of batteries and recycle them properly to prevent fires but also preserve valuable resources.
Found in a number of consumer gadgets and more and more household items, Lithium-ion batteries can become damaged in transit or by handling them and potentially cause fires when they are in flammable wastes (paper, plastics). Fires in waste vehicles are up by 37.5% since 2017. One of the biggest culprits is from Lithium-ion batteries which when thrown away and damaged by the vehicles compactor can set alight. In London, Veolia accepts thousands of tonnes of small electronic devices like these annually. Our new research shows that people are unaware of the consequences of damaged Lithium-ion batteries, and perhaps also the benefits of recycling them.
In London, Veolia vehicles and facilities suffered 14 instances of fires in 2019. These were highly likely to be caused by batteries being in black bag bin waste. Fresh YouGov research, on behalf of Veolia, highlighted that just under half of the public do not remove batteries when disposing of their old electronics. Removing batteries from electronic devices and placing them in special disposal containers, such as those available at Veolia Household Reuse and Recycling Sites (HRRSs), is the key to ensure that they are safely and carefully recycled in the correct facilities.
Leaving a battery in any device, however small, can be as hazardous as leaving a smouldering BBQ in the waste – another source of waste fires.
Gavin Graveson, Executive Vice President at Veolia UK and Ireland says:
“Battery induced fires are a serious and unfortunately, growing hazard that Veolia is combatting. While enjoying your new electronics this year, make sure to take care when recycling your old ones. The average UK resident throws away around 24.5 kg of electronics every year. These materials, if treated properly can be a gift to the planet, returning valuable resources back to be used again – so we can, for example, move to electric vehicles more rapidly with less impact from mining more resources. So take your batteries out and bring them to our HWRSs and ensure a safe 2020 for all.”
Veolia has 9 HWRCs in London, where we can make sure your electronics are handled in a safe and proper manner. Head to your local council’s website or the Veolia website to uncover the best way for you to recycle your batteries.