Launch of the “Stop battery fires” campaign

The campaign comes as new research reveals that more than 1,200 fires in garbage trucks and landfills across the country were caused by improperly disposed of batteries in the last year, a 71% increase. compared to 700 incidents reported in 2022. A survey of local authorities across the UK also found that 94 per cent said fires caused by batteries in the waste stream were a growing challenge .

Phil Clark, of the National Fire Chiefs Council, said: “Fires involving improper disposal of lithium-ion batteries are a disaster waiting to happen. Fire departments are seeing an increasing number of incidents, but they can be avoided by properly and carefully disposing of electrical devices. “

The “Stop Battery Fires” campaign aims to raise public awareness of the importance of recycling electrical appliances and batteries to prevent these fires. Recycle Your Electricals works to make the recycling process more accessible by providing a postcode locator tool that helps individuals find the nearest electricity and battery recycling points.

Local authorities and waste professionals can use campaign resources to raise awareness in their communities and encourage the proper disposal of electrical and battery waste.

New research from Recycle Your Electricals, led by Opinium, shows that more than 1.1 billion electrical appliances and 449.9 million loose batteries were thrown away in the last year. British adults admitted that on average they discarded at least 24 batteries, including fifteen electrical devices containing batteries and 9 loose batteries. This included 260 million vapes. Nearly half of UK adults did not know or had not heard that electrical devices with built-in rechargeable batteries could catch fire if crushed or damaged.

Mark Andrews, head of waste and recycling fires at the National Fire Chiefs Council, explains: “Fires involving waste have always been challenging, but lithium-ion batteries add significantly to this by creating unknown and unpredictable risks. These fires can be explosive and spread quickly with the risk of re-ignition and toxic gases represent a risk for firefighters. These incidents also consume a large number of limited fire department and fire department resources to fully control and extinguish the fire, creating additional risks to the community.

As the use of lithium-ion batteries continues to grow, it is critical that the waste management industry adapts and develops strategies to mitigate the risks associated with their disposal. The Stop Battery Fires campaign is a valuable resource for industry professionals, providing advice and support in efforts to create a safer and more sustainable waste management system.

Scott Butler, executive director of Recycle Your Electricals, said: “With more and more products containing lithium-ion batteries and battery fires on the rise, it is vital that we stop these fires and reduce the impact of the air pollution they have on our local environment. communities and the dangers they pose to firefighters and waste managers. We also throw away some of the most valuable materials on the planet that are vital to our economy. We call on everyone to ensure that they never throw away and always recycle. electrical appliances and their batteries. Simply search for “Recycle your electrical appliances” to find (the) nearest drop-off point.

Professor Frank Kelly from the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial College London’s School of Public Health found that: “Waste fires can cause significant spikes in air pollution. Our analysis of landfill fires in the very densely populated areas of Herne Hill and Brentford showed that they contributed to local pollution with the Herne Hill fire clearly leading to exceedances of WHO health guidelines for PM2.5. This means that thousands of residents in the area have been affected and have rightly been asked to close their windows. Some were unable to leave their homes. »

James Nicholson, claims manager at Zurich UK, said: “Lithium battery fires have become a real concern in recent years as we see more and more of them every year, whether in garbage trucks or in recycling centers. cause considerable damage – in Zurich in the UK, some cases have cost up to £20 million – but they can also cause a lot of upheaval while the damage is repaired.