Is Your Recycling a Fire Hazard?
By Office of Communication
Posted on August 25, 2020, August 25, 2020

Battery recycling programs
Excited about your new cell phone purchase, you pull it out of the case and start changing all of the settings. Your old phone – which has just been replaced by the new model – remains lying on the counter, ready to be discarded.

It is an electronic and you are pretty certain electronics are recyclable. They're full of precious metals, after all. You throw the old phone in your recycling bin at home, not realizing you just created a serious fire hazard.

In recent years, there has been a spike in fires erupting at recycling facilities due to lithium-ion batteries — like the battery contained in that cell phone and other electronics or rechargeable batteries. One facility fire even took place in Denton.

In addition to fires breaking out at recycling facilities, collection trucks have also gone up in flames from lithium-ion batteries. It goes without saying these fires are an extreme safety hazard for both drivers and the people working in recycling facilities. 

Why electronics and batteries are explosive.

It is hard to imagine how such a simple act could cause so much harm, but lithium-ion batteries, whether large or small, are packed with the power of combustion. Contained inside the batteries is a flammable electrolyte, this helps keep your laptop or cell phone charged, but when put under the right (or wrong) conditions, can ignite into flames.

Once that battery leaves your curb with the other recyclables, it is often tossed in the hopper of a truck. This hopper not only has hot temperatures, it also compacts the material to fit it all in the truck, putting that lithium-ion battery under pressure.

When the load is delivered to the recycling facility, this already volatile situation can get even worse. At the facility, the battery is moved through a series of machines and equipment, causing additional pressure and potential holes to be poked into the battery. Combine these conditions with the mix of paper material moving through the facility, and you can see how things can heat up quickly.

Only you can help prevent recycling truck and facility fires

Most importantly, you want to keep electronics and rechargeable batteries out of your recycling and trash bin.

Thankfully, there are several options for safe disposal and recycling of your electronics and rechargeable batteries.  

Several Arlington stores offer lithium-ion battery recycling programs. Click here to find a location near you. 

Traditional alkaline (disposal) batteries can be recycled at the Fort Worth Environmental Collection Center. You will need to show an ID or water bill as proof of your Arlington residence. 

Help keep everyone safe, including the environment, by finding a secure location to store your rechargeable batteries and electronics until you can properly dispose of them.

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