Nearly 25 per cent of people across the UK admit to binning used batteries, and many are unaware of the fact that batteries are pre-built into some smaller items. Since it only takes a single battery to start are fire, West Sussex County Council are urging residents not to bin their used batteries this Christmas.
The batteries can be damaged through the crushing and sorting process at waste processing facilities, causing paper, plastics and other products to catch alight, a county council spokesperson said.
The batteries often have some remaining electrical charge. As a result, devices such as mobile phones, e-cigarettes and laptops have been known to catch fire in collection lorries and sorting facilities over the years.
“We’ve seen a rise in the number of fires from batteries or electrical items in collection vehicles and where we process waste - it only takes one spark to cause a blaze," said cabinet member for environment and climate change Deborah Urquhart.
"Both alkaline and lithium batteries contain hazardous metals and chemicals that harm the environment if they aren’t responsibly recycled – that’s why you’ll see battery collection bins at so many major retailers, and of course at our own Recycling Centres in West Sussex.”
Steve Read, County Council Director of Environment and Public Protection added: “Batteries pose a serious risk when placed into general waste or recycling bins and mixed with paper, cardboard, plastic or other recyclable materials.
"Lives are at stake, so our message is simple – please don’t bin your batteries and risk a fire this Christmas.
“It’s also important that people don't throw away old batteries from power tools, remote controlled toys, e-scooters, tablets, or any battery into their recycling bin. It’s extremely dangerous."