It’s nearly impossible to scan a modern home and not spot electronic devices with lithium-based batteries. From smartphones, watches and fitness trackers, to toothbrushes and toys, they are increasingly the power source of choice. Those batteries are also increasingly found in the waste stream where they can create significant hazards.
“There’s definitely a correlation in the rise of these batteries showing up in the waste stream and catastrophic fires occurring,” Jesse Maxwell, the Solid Waste Association of North America’s (SWANA) advocacy and safety manager, told Waste Dive.
Concerns about lithium-ion batteries are unfortunately nothing new for RethinkWaste. In September 2016, our recycling facility at the Shoreway Environmental Center suffered a catastrophic fire that was likely caused by a lithium-ion battery. Thankfully, all staff were evacuated safely, but it shut down our facility for four months and cost over $8.5 million in damages to our recycling sorting equipment.
This is why it’s important to safely and properly handle used batteries, including taping the ends of lithium batteries before recycling. Find out how and where you can dispose of your household batteries at rethinkwaste.org/batteries.