County: You Can Prevent A Trash Fire

A variety of batteries. Courtesy/hudsonwi.gov

COUNTY News:

How often do you think about what is powering your smartphone, laptop and watch?

Lithium-ion batteries are used in many everyday items because they can provide more powerful energy than other batteries and they are rechargeable. However improperly disposing of your lithium-ion battery can have hazardous and deadly results.

Lithium-ion batteries should never be tossed in your roll cart or trash bag. It could end up in a fiery disaster leaving your roll cart melted and unusable. The safest way to dispose of any battery is to bring it to the Eco Station for proper disposal.

Fire Rover, a business dedicated to the safety of businesses by detecting and extinguishing fires before they start, reported that in 2017 there were 289 reported fires in the US and Canada from the results of improperly disposing of lithium-ion batteries. There were three deaths and eight direct injuries from these fires.

It also was reported that 40 percent of those fires were at solid waste facilities and 31 percent were at metal facilities. These fires went from little episodes to complete burnouts and affected a wide range of recycling operations including those for metals, rubber, hazardous materials, etc.

According to waste360.com, “During the past 12 months, the waste and recycling industry has experienced 338 reported facility fires in the U.S. and Canada. Additionally, we incurred 48 reported injuries and four deaths that be directly or indirectly attributed to these fire incidents.”

This graph shows the number of fires that have been reported in the US and Canada from February 2016 to January 2020. Courtesy image

Proper disposal of batteries can prevent fires, but it also helps recover precious materials in batteries that can be used to make more batteries. Lithium-ion batteries may contain cobalt, lithium, manganese, nickel, and graphite. Cobalt, lithium, and graphite are natural elements that are in limited supply.

The County has a battery take-back program for residents. To help safely manage batteries and to prevent a future shortage of cobalt, graphite, and lithium, residents can bring batteries to the Eco Station for them to be recycled properly at no charge to their annual loads. The Eco Station accepts multiple types of batteries such as those found in your household, vehicle, mobile phone, laptop, musical instruments, and kitchen tools and gadgets.

Remove batteries from electronics before disposing of them.

DO NOT place batteries in the trash or recycle roll cart. Place each individual battery in a clear plastic bag so that it does not come into contact with metal or other batteries and start a fire. More information can be found on the Environmental Services website, www.lacnm.us/gogreen, or the new app Recycle Coach that is FREE to download on the app store or on Google Play.

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