Batteries are becoming a major problem within the waste industry according to the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA). As a result, president of the association has called for a nationwide scheme for the safe and correct disposal of all battery based waste.

Batteries are usually classed as hazardous and must be disposed of and treated with care. It’s not just loose batteries that are a problem, items such as phones, power tools and toys with batteries inside are also an issue. Throwing batteries away with household waste poses a dangerous risk to the collection vehicles and process machinery with a high risk of a fire occurring.

Hundreds of fires each year have been caused by batteries in bins and recycling centres. 90% of local authorities around the UK claim this is a serious ongoing problem.

Susie Burrage, President of BMRA, said “The incorrect disposal of lithium-ion batteries is one of the biggest health and safety threats that have ever faced by the waste and metal recycling industries. These batteries are deadly ticking time bombs, and we are witnessing more and more cases across the UK where they are going off, with disastrous consequences. Batteries need to be disposed of separately, not commingled with any other waste products. The bonus for doing this is a reduction in the risk of fires and it allows the recovery of valuable natural resources, lithium in this case, so it’s a win-win if everyone recycles responsibly. The Government needs to commit to an awareness campaign to educate people across the UK about the dangers these batteries can pose and how to dispose of them safely.”

What to do with your batteries

Most authorities in the UK are happy to accept battery waste if correctly separated from household waste. For example, putting unwanted or used batteries in a see through bag on top of the black bins on collection day is an acceptable way to dispose of them. Local landfill sites also have facilities for their correct disposal.

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