Take care disposing of batteries

News from Reading Borough Council

A recent fire at the re3 Smallmead Recycling Centre in Island Road was a stark reminder of the dangers of throwing away batteries, Reading Borough Council has said.

The council has urged residents not to bin batteries or small battery-operated products such as single-use vapes, as such items always need to be recycled separately to minimise the danger of fires. The recent fire that took place on Monday 28 November caused a loss of recyclable material and money, disruption to the service and posed a significant risk to workers’ lives. So far this year re3 has tackled ten fires within their facilities, with batteries being identified as the main cause of such incidents.

Electrical goods containing batteries that tend to be discarded in general waste or recycling are usually smaller, frequently used items such as toothbrushes, shavers, chargers, toys, vapes and mobile phones.

Fires caused by batteries have the potential to endanger the public and waste truck operators by causing fires on streets, and at waste centres, potentially costing local councils millions of pounds. Batteries, or electricals containing batteries, that end up inside bins or household recycling lorries with other materials are crushed in the waste and recycling process, increasing the chances that they could be punctured and self-combust and set fire to dry and flammable waste and household recycling. Discarded batteries can also cause a spark if they are struck by items such as mechanical loading shovels.

Residents should remove batteries from electrical devices and leave them in a small carrier bag on top of their recycling bin on the collection day. Alternatively, residents can recycle batteries at the Recycling Centre or at some larger supermarkets.

If batteries are not removable, the device should be recycled as a small electrical item. Across Reading, small electricals (maximum size of a shoe box) can be left on top of residents’ recycling bins on a collection day. Batteries and electrical items can also be brought to re3 Recycling Centres for safe disposal.

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