Science

Batteries left in discarded electricals start over 700 fires each year, report warns

If you’re throwing out your old gadgets after getting some new stuff for Christmas, you might want to think about removing the batteries first.

That’s because research from Material Focus has found more than 700 fires started this year in garbage trucks and recycling centers from dumped electrical appliances.

Batteries can be punctured by other items during the removal process, damaging the separation between the electrodes and causing them to explode or ignite.

If batteries come into contact with another piece of metal, they can also catch fire, with nearby dry waste acting as kindling.

New Research Shows There Will Be More Than Three Times More Waste Stream Fires From Waste Batteries Than Reported In 2021

New research shows there will be more than three times more waste stream fires from waste batteries than reported in 2021

The Gadgets Responsible For Fires Are Usually Small, Cheap And Frequently Used, Such As Electric Toothbrushes, Razors And Chargers

The Gadgets Responsible For Fires Are Usually Small, Cheap And Frequently Used, Such As Electric Toothbrushes, Razors And Chargers

The gadgets responsible for fires are usually small, cheap and frequently used, such as electric toothbrushes, razors and chargers

HOW TO RECYCLE OLD GADGETS

If possible, remove all batteries and bulbs.

When recycling a smart device or computer, remove the memory card or delete all data.

Separate batteries and devices into two bags.

Take both to the nearest recycling point, such as recycling centers, libraries and supermarkets.

If your municipality offers a recycling service for batteries and gadgets, you can leave the bags outside on collection day.

Never dispose of batteries in the regular waste bin.

Source: Recycle your electrical appliances

Material Focus, a pro-recycling organisation, surveyed 60 local authorities in the UK about the fires it had experienced, which were caused by crushed or damaged batteries in the waste stream.

It revealed that there are more than three times more fires than reported in 2021and nearly 90 percent of respondents believe they are an increasing problem.

The gadgets responsible are usually small, cheap and frequently used, such as electric toothbrushes, razors and chargers.

These are also the types of electrical appliances that consumers don’t realize contain batteries that they should remove.

Lithium-ion batteries are responsible for around 48 per cent of all waste fires in the UK each year, according to the Environmental Services Association.

Battery fires not only pose a direct threat to the public and waste management personnel, but also cost around £158 million in damage each year.

Mickey, a bin driver for Buckinghamshire Council who experienced a lorry fire, said: ‘In the space of a few minutes it went from a little bit of smoke to two feet of flames leaping out of the bin.

“We were lucky this time, we were able to get to a safe place, which meant no one got hurt.

“With the help of the fire brigade, we were able to extinguish the fire.

“However, these types of fires, if we were on a residential street, could cause untold damage.

“As it is now, our trucks are often severely damaged, with hundreds of thousands of kilograms of damage.”

A Survey Of 2001 Uk Adults In August 2021 Found That Up To 45 Per Cent Of Households Are Unaware Of The Dangers Of Leaving Batteries In Their Discarded Electrical Appliances.  Pictured: A Plume Of Smoke Rises From A Rubbish Bin At A Recycling Center In The Uk

A Survey Of 2001 Uk Adults In August 2021 Found That Up To 45 Per Cent Of Households Are Unaware Of The Dangers Of Leaving Batteries In Their Discarded Electrical Appliances.  Pictured: A Plume Of Smoke Rises From A Rubbish Bin At A Recycling Center In The Uk

A survey of 2001 UK adults in August 2021 found that up to 45 per cent of households are unaware of the dangers of leaving batteries in their discarded electrical appliances. Pictured: A plume of smoke rises from a rubbish bin at a recycling center in the UK

HOW MUCH IS YOUR TECHNOLOGY WORTH TO RESELL?

The trade-in value of a games console can range from an Xbox One for £110 to a Nintendo Switch for £200.

Tablets can be resold for between £193 and £420.

The trade-in value of laptops is between £274 and £420.

Desktop computers, including the monitor, can be resold for around £25.

Read more here

A survey of 2001 UK adults in August 2021 found that up to 45 per cent of households are unaware of the dangers of leaving batteries in their discarded electrical appliances.

It also found that 40 percent of households don’t know how to safely recycle their old batteries, while 25 percent don’t know how to dispose of small, rechargeable electrical appliances.

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus said: ‘People should never throw away their electrical appliances or their portable batteries.

“If they can, they should remove all hidden batteries from their electrical appliances and recycle the batteries and electrical appliances separately.

“As always, if they can’t remove the batteries, they’ll have to recycle their electrical appliances separately.”

Research from Material Focus this week found that 41 percent of adults in the country plan to buy more technology during the holiday season, which could result in the purchase of 53.5 million new electrical appliances in the next four weeks.

Nearly a quarter of us also buy more gadgets during the weeks of Black Friday and Christmas than at any other time of the year.

An Employee Next To A Conveyor Belt At A Recycling Center

An Employee Next To A Conveyor Belt At A Recycling Center

The Worker Jumps Back After A Sudden Explosion

The Worker Jumps Back After A Sudden Explosion

Not only do battery fires pose a direct threat to the public and waste management personnel, but they also cost around £158 million in damage each year. Pictured: A staff member standing next to a conveyor belt at a recycling center (left) before jumping back after a sudden explosion (right)

That’s why Materials Focus launched the ‘Stop Battery Fires Campaign’ to raise awareness of how households can reduce the risk of fire by safely recycling their gadgets.

More than 70 local authorities promote the safe disposal of batteries and that they should be recycled separately from the device.

If you can’t remove the batteries, the whole device should be recycled separately from your other waste, they say.

Mark Andrews, head of waste fires for the National Fire Chief’s Council, said: ‘We are urging people to recycle electrical appliances and batteries and not to dispose of them with household waste.

“People are often surprised to learn that batteries can cause fires in both garbage trucks and waste facilities, but they do and as we use and dispose of more electronic devices, these incidents are not rare.

“These fires can be challenging for fire services to fight, have a significant impact on local communities and pose a real risk to truck and waste management personnel.

‘Everyone can do their part and prevent fires by disposing of electrical appliances correctly.’

People can find their nearest collection point for batteries and electrical appliances by visiting the Recycle Your Electricals website.

Scientists invent a method to recycle lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars

Lithium-ion batteries, found in smartphones, electric vehicles and laptops, represent a future toxic waste disaster as they run out, but a startup claims to have the solution.

Based in Westborough, Massachusetts, Ascend Elements created a process that shreds spent batteries and turns them into cathode materials, ready to be converted into future working batteries and placed in electric vehicles.

The process creates a powder called “black mass,” which is then filtered to remove impurities and extract all individual metal elements, reducing the need for more mining.

These upcycled batteries can be customized for a specific manufacturer, last longer than traditional EV batteries and can be charged more often, the company said.

Read more here

Lithium-Ion Batteries, Found In Cellphones, Electric Vehicles And Laptops, Represent A Future Toxic Waste Disaster As They Run Out, But A Startup Claims To Have The Solution

Lithium-Ion Batteries, Found In Cellphones, Electric Vehicles And Laptops, Represent A Future Toxic Waste Disaster As They Run Out, But A Startup Claims To Have The Solution

Lithium-ion batteries, found in cellphones, electric vehicles and laptops, represent a future toxic waste disaster as they run out, but a startup claims to have the solution

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Jacky

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