Recycling Facilities: Understanding the Causes of Fire and How to Prevent Them

Lithium Battery FireRecycling facility fires are more common than you would expect. They are highly prone to fire incidents due to the nature of materials they handle and the complex machinery involved. Over the years, many facilities have suffered devastating fire damages, resulting in loss of property, business interruption, and even injuries or fatalities.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the common causes of fires at recycling facilities and provide tips on how to prevent them from occurring.

1. Material Combustion

Recycling facilities often handle materials that are combustible, such as paper, plastic, cardboard, and wood. These combustibles can easily ignite when exposed to heat, sparks, or flames. For example, when bales of paper are stacked too closely or without proper ventilation, they can become hot and ignite spontaneously. To prevent material combustion, facilities should ensure that combustibles are stored appropriately, away from heat sources, and with sufficient ventilation to prevent heat buildup.

2. Electrical Hazards

Recycling facilities cannot accept batteries and electrical goods. These items tend to ignite when handled roughly. Batteries and other electrical items such as vapes, phones, and items containing batteries should be recycled in a WEEEIreland drop off centre.

3. Spontaneous Combustion

Some materials, such as oil-soaked rags, batteries, and chemicals, are prone to spontaneous combustion. This occurs when chemical reactions in the material produce heat, which builds up until it ignites. To prevent spontaneous combustion, these materials should be stored in designated areas away from other combustibles and heat sources. Workers should also be trained to recognize the signs of spontaneous combustion, such as strange smells or an increase in temperature, and know how to respond to them.

4. Arson

Finally, arson is another potential cause of fires at recycling facilities. Arson can be committed by disgruntled employees, competitors, or even vandals. To prevent arson, facilities should have robust security measures, such as locks, cameras, and alarm systems. Background checks should be conducted on employees and contractors, and vigilance should be maintained on suspicious activities around the facilities.


Recycling facilities need to be vigilant in identifying and managing potential fire hazards to ensure the safety of their employees, the public, and the environment. A comprehensive fire prevention plan should include regular inspections, training, maintenance, and security measures. By adopting these measures, recycling facilities can minimize the risk of fire incidents, prevent catastrophic losses, and sustain their operations in the long run.