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Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is supporting a new campaign from Recycle Your Electricals and the National Fire Chiefs Council is raising awareness of the importance of electricals and battery recycling as new research shows lithium-ion batteries thrown in household rubbish bins have led to over 1,200 fires in the waste system in the last 12 months, compared to 700 in 2022. A survey of local authorities across the UK has also found that 94% of them said that fires caused by batteries in the waste stream were an increasing challenge.

Litium iron batteries Charity car wash 2

With the steep rise in the number of portable electrical items containing lithium-ion batteries comes significant fire risk if they are binned instead of being recycled.

Sarah Wilkinson, Head of Prevention at Humberside Fire and Rescue said: “Lithium-ion batteries are hidden inside many everyday household electricals, from laptops, mobile phones and tablets, to electric toothbrushes, vapes and earpods. Waste fires are preventable and we support national and local authorities advice to residents to use the household waste recycling centres to properly dispose of electrical items and batteries to reduce the risk of fires from starting. Even a small fire can soon become dangerous as it quickly spreads to other waste materials, buildings and vehicles, posing a risk to life, property and the environment.

“We advise people to never leave damaged batteries in the home or business and to dispose of them safely and correctly as soon as possible. Let’s all work together to help reduce fires from starting and help protect our community and the environment.”

New research from Recycle Your Electricals, conducted by Opinium, shows that over 1.1bn electricals and 449. 9m loose batteries were binned in the last year. UK adults admitted that on average they’d binned at least 24 batteries, including fifteen electricals containing batteries and 9 loose batteries]. This included 260m vapes. Nearly half of UK adults did not know or hadn’t heard that electrical items containing chargeable built-in batteries can catch fire if crushed or damaged.

Mark Andrews, Waste and Recycling Fires Lead for the National Fire Chiefs Council, explains what a challenge these fires present and the impact this is having on our fire services.

“Fires involving waste have always been challenging but lithium-ion batteries add significantly to this by creating unknown and unpredictable risks. These fires can be explosive and spread rapidly with the risk of reignition and toxic gasses a risk to firefighters. These incidents also tie up large numbers of finite fire service resources and firefighters to fully control and extinguish the fire creating further risks to the community.”

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Recycle Your Electricals, wants people to consider the consequences of binning electricals and batteries given that these destructive and costly fires can be easily avoided.

“With more and more products containing lithium-ion batteries, and battery fires on the rise it’s vital that we stop these fires and reduce the air pollution impact that they have on our local communities and the dangers they present to fire fighters and waste officers. We are also throwing away some of the most precious materials on the planet which are vital to our economy. We are calling on everyone to make sure that they never bin and always recycle their electricals and their batteries. Just search recycle your electricals to find your nearest drop off point.”

Batteries, of all kinds, whether loose or hidden in our electricals, should never be binned, always recycled. If possible, remove batteries from electricals and recycle the batteries and electricals separately at your local recycling centre, supermarket or other battery recycling point. If you can’t remove the batteries, then always recycle your electricals at your nearest electrical recycling point. You can find your nearest electrical and battery recycling point via the Recycle Your Electricals Postcode Locator.