Disposing of Batteries Safely
Lithium-ion and other batteries in items such as phones, laptops, and vapes, can cause devastating fires and disposing of batteries safely can be an overlooked issue.
Incorrectly disposing of batteries can and has led to an exponential rise in incidents in waste centres and lorries. You’ve probably seen them in the news or heard us talking about them.
But if you’re not supposed to bin lithium-ion battery products, what are you supposed to do with them?
If battery products can’t go in the household bin, where do they go?
Where are you supposed to dispose of vapes, phones, and laptops?
We’ve compiled this handy blog to help you understand more and figure out where they’re supposed to go.
Why can’t you put a battery in a normal bin?
Phones, laptops, vapes, and lone batteries are brilliant objects but once damaged, they can pose a significant fire risk.
If punctured, impacted, or crushed, the batteries can enter a process called ‘thermal runaway’. This can cause the battery to overheat, release toxic gases, and explode.
As many of us have probably seen, bin lorries, sorting processes, and waste management can easily accidentally impact hidden batteries.
Incidences of battery fires have been widely reported in the past few years, as waste management companies increasingly struggle with the associated dangers and costs of them.
There were nearly 260 significant battery fires recorded in waste and recycling centres across the UK between 2019 and 2020, leading to more than £100 million worth of damage (source: ESA and Eunomia 2021).
It is much better for the environment, for the waste centres, and for safety reasons, to recycle your batteries BUT you need to check where!
Where can you bin or recycle a battery?
Batteries need to be handled with care, away from other combustible materials. It sounds difficult but there are a multitude of options for disposing of batteries and gadgets that have them built in!
1. Recycling centres
There are recycling centres that accept batteries and battery-powered devices all over the UK. These centres are specially designed to handle and recycle batteries. They can also recycle the precious resources that live in batteries, such as minerals, gold, silver, or palladium! It is important, however, to check that your local centre accepts the type of battery or device that you need to dispose of.
2. Your recycling bin (if your council allows it)
There are a few councils out there that allow you to put batteries and electrical devices in your household recycling bin. They will have processes that allow the safe handling of the batteries and are able to mitigate the risks. You do need to check this with your local council though, and still be careful of how you handle the used batteries or devices. Most of those councils will need you to bag the batteries separately or label them.
3. Shops and drops offs
Many shops, charities, or public areas have battery drop-off points. These allow you to pop in and drop your used batteries off, safe in the knowledge that they know how to properly dispose of, and recycle, them. These can range from supermarkets and charity shops to standalone battery disposal units.
4. Vape disposal
Vape take-back schemes mean that many vape shops will dispose of vapes for you, generally if it was bought from them – although some may take any! This is a handy way to dispose of your vapes while you are buying a new one. They can also generally be disposed of in the same way as other battery products, at recycling centres, shops, and waste units.
Where can I find a local battery waste centre?
Now, the all-important question: how do you find the waste centres, shops, and disposal points for batteries near you?
Disposing of batteries: the quick-fire stats
Excuse the pun, but we’ve put together a quick infographic based on our waste research and tips for disposing of batteries safely.
Feel free to share!
You can find more information about batteries and disposing of batteries safely at the following places:
The Firechief range includes high-performance fire extinguishers, fire blankets, first aid kits, lithium-ion fire extinguishers and the Kitchen Stove Guard. For more information, call us on +44 (0)330 999 0019 or email email@example.com.
The information contained within this blog is provided solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions based upon this information, we advise the reader to consult any and all relevant statutory or regulatory guidance and where necessary to consult a qualified fire or industry regulation professional. The use or reliance on any information contained herein is solely at the reader’s risk.