Buckingham residents warned of explosion danger from 'zombie' batteries

Council urges people not to put them in with general rubbish or recycling

Friday, 27th August 2021, 9:53 am
Updated Friday, 27th August 2021, 9:54 am
Reycling centres have special bins for dangerous batteries

Buckingham residents are being urged to properly dispose of ‘zombie’ batteries that are in danger of exploding or causing fires.

Household recycling centres across Buckinghamshire are taking part in the national Take Charge campaign, which urges consumers to get rid of dead power packs using specialist battery recycling services.

They should not be placed in with general rubbish or recycling.

Zombie batteries have the power to rise from the grave and cause destruction in waste management and recycling facilities. That's why they need to be recycled properly.

Powerful lithium-ion batteries are the most dangerous type if they are thrown into the general rubbish or ordinary recycling. These batteries are often found in products like laptops, tablets, mobile phones, radio-controlled toys, Bluetooth devices, shavers, electric toothbrushes, power tools, scooters and even e-cigarettes.

Although they're safe to use normally, once dead these zombie batteries have the power to cause fires or even explode if crushed or damaged during the waste treatment process.

The team at FCC Environment, who manage the nine recycling centres on behalf of Buckinghamshire Council, have recently had to deal with two such incidents, including a fire in the paper bin at Aylesbury Recycling Centre.

It is thought the cause was incorrect battery disposal. Thankfully, due to the prompt action taken by staff on each occasion, no one was hurt and little damage was done. Members of the public were evacuated and the fire service attended to extinguish the flames.

To remind household recycling centre visitors of this danger, Take Charge campaign banners and posters are now on display at all nine centres to highlight the importance of removing batteries from items before recycling them.

Additional battery recycling bins have been installed near to the electrical items bins to make it even easier to recycle batteries correctly.

Peter Strachan, cabinet member for climate change and the environment, said: “By joining the fight against zombie batteries, we hope to not only encourage visitors to do the right thing but also to help protect our fantastic team by preventing a fire occurring again in the future.

“Batteries are very easy to recycle, but have to be collected separately. Residents can do this at all nine household recycling centres, all major supermarkets and even via the kerbside collection ─ by putting them in a small clear bag on top of the lid of your recycling bin on collection day. You just need to make sure they don’t end up in the bin or recycling with other waste.”

Recent data shows that, between April 2019 and March 2020, lithium-ion batteries alone were thought to be responsible for more than 250 fires at waste facilities – or well over a third (38%) of all such blazes.