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The dangers of lithium batteries


The dangers of lithium batteries

Following a recent report from Look North, we felt it was important to support the South Yorkshire fire service in warning people about the dangers of lithium batteries.

Lithium ion batteries are perfectly safe and are in most electronic items we use daily. However, when they are irresponsibly recycled and thrown away into the waste chain, the lithium batteries can become crushed, pierced or cracked.

When the batteries are damaged in this way, there’s an effect called thermal runaway, and this is where they self-heat, causing surrounding materials to ignite, which is particularly hazardous at waste management facilities.

If households throw away toys, phones and laptops, they will enter the general waste stream, meaning the thermal runaway can happen at any stage.

It could happen in your household bin, refuse truck, or waste management facility. The severity of these fires strains the local facilities and the fire service, and more care should be taken when disposing of our electronics and lithium batteries.

The South Yorkshire Fire Service has reported that every year there are 200 fires caused by batteries nationally. However, we are certain this number is much higher as many small fires are handled at facilities without the need for the fire service to be involved.

Fraser Lythgoe, our Ops Director, said, “We frequently have issues with Lithium batteries combusting whilst going through our processes on site, our site operatives are trained on what to look for and how to segregate batteries from the waste streams prior to processing, but unfortunately it’s impossible to remove all of them; we also use thermal imaging to detect hot spots within our stockpiles which can indicate an overheating battery”.

So, how do we dispose of items containing these batteries? There are now many accessible recycling points where you can take your lithium batteries or electronics to be recycled. If you need to dispose of larger batteries, most commonly found in laptops, you should contact your local council to ask if they offer a battery collection service. Batteries can be taken to your local recycling centre if this isn’t available.

If you have booked skip hire Sheffield with us and have batteries you need to throw away, please contact us prior to booking. Our team of professionals will be happy to advise you on the best disposal method.