The danger of putting batteries in a bin

Throwing a battery into a household bin may seem like a sensible thing to do, but it is actually causing more harm than you realise.

In the last few weeks, a recent fire in one of our recycling trucks in Dublin as well as several news articles about the same has prompted us to write a blog about the dangers of throwing disposable vapes and batteries into the bin.

In the UK, reports suggest that recycling facilities are suffering from as many as 700 fires a year as a result of batteries being incorrectly discarded.

The article quotes a Material Focus survey that outlines how this occurs

‘Over 700 fires were started in bin lorries and recycling centres this year by dumped electricals. 3 times as many as in 2021.

‘Batteries can be punctured by other items in the disposal process, damaging the separation between the electrodes and causing them to explode or ignite.’

Also from an environmental point of view, a recent article in the Irish Examiner outlines how disposable vapes are a nuisance for nature –

“Disposable vapes are not only contributing to plastic pollution but are also leaking toxic chemicals into the sea…. they are a step backward when we need to be moving toward a society of reuse.”

How to recycle batteries

  • Batteries in phones and household batteries should all be recycled at a dedicated battery recycling site.
  • On the other hand, disposable and other types of vapes should be taken apart.
  • The non-electric components in a vape can be put into a black bin and the electric and lithium components can be recycled. Click here for more on this process.

Why can’t you dispose of batteries in a household rubbish bin?

Batteries contain chemicals that can be highly flammable, and if they are not disposed of properly, they can cause fires in landfills or waste facilities.

As waste is crushed, and handled roughly, a battery’s protective case is damaged and can flame causing a lithium fire. This can happen in the back of a bin truck or at a processing facility.

A lithium fire is a lot harder to extinguish than a typical fire, especially when it is surrounded by flammable recycling.

Putting batteries in a bin can pose several dangers to the environment and human health. So please dispose of batteries at a recycling centre or through the WEEE Ireland battery recycling program.

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