Commissioner's Blog: Battery disposal a burning issue
They come in all shapes and sizes to power many different devices, yet every battery has the potential to become a menace if they end up in your rubbish or recycling bin.
Some batteries contain toxic chemicals, heavy metals and other pollutants that can contaminate water supplies when they enter landfill, while rechargeable lithium-ion batteries become fire hazards if they are damaged or crushed during the waste collection process.
In recent months, wrongly discarded lithium-ion batteries were suspected to be the cause of a number of fires in recycling trucks and waste-handling facilities at various locations across WA, prompting local authorities to remind residents to never bin a battery.
How you should discard batteries may depend on what type they are and what condition they are in. There are many battery drop-off points around Perth and Western Australia that will take your spent or unwanted batteries, before they are collected and recycled.
Many people choose to “drop when they shop” – taking used batteries to collection points at supermarkets, office-supplies’ shops, phone shops, hardware stores, libraries or local council collection sites. So, if you have a drawer with old batteries and devices, take a trip this weekend to drop them off.
Damaged lithium-ion batteries and devices can however be dangerous, so they should never be taken to a battery collection point, nor should they be thrown-out, used or left in areas where they are exposed to heat, moisture, direct sunlight or in parked vehicles.
Instead, lithium-ion batteries showing signs of swelling, bulging, leaking, overheating or visible damage should only ever be placed in a clear plastic bag or container and transported to a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection facility.
Don’t forget to keep your used battery collection away from children, especially given the dangers that button batteries (even used ones) can pose if they are swallowed. As soon as you have finished using a button battery, put sticky tape around both sides of the battery to make them less attractive to children and avoid the low-risk of them catching fire.
To find your nearest battery drop-off point, head to Recycle Right: recycleright.wa.gov.au/find-my-nearest. Learn more about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries on the Department of Fire and Emergency Service’s website at www.dfes.wa.gov.au
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