Wychavon joins national fight against 'zombie batteries'

Wychavon residents are being urged to join the fight against 'zombie batteries' in a bid to tackle waste collection fires caused by carelessly discarded dead batteries.

As part of the Take Charge campaign, Wychavon and its waste and recycling contractor FCC Environment, is reminding residents that batteries should never be put into their black or green bins.

Dead batteries thrown away with other waste and recycling, which the campaign refers to as 'zombie batteries', are likely to be crushed or punctured once the waste is collected and processed.

Some battery types like nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) – the sort found in laptops and mobile phones - can ignite or even explode when they're damaged. Once this happens, the batteries can quickly set fire to other materials present in the waste, like paper, leading to serious incidents that put lives at risk.

A survey by the Environmental Services Association (ESA), which launched the campaign, found lithium-ion batteries alone were responsible for 38 of all fires at recycling sorting plants and waste disposal facilities in 2019/20.

Residents can support the campaign by disposing of batteries safely in the following ways:

  • Household batteries (used in watches, toys, torches etc) can be put into a plastic bag and placed on top of your black bin. They will then be collected for recycling.
  • You can also take household batteries to any retailer or supermarket that sells batteries and use their battery recycling collection point.
  • Other types of batteries (laptops, electric toothbrushes, shavers etc) can be taken to a Household Recycling Centre. Visit www.letswasteless.com to find your nearest one and check what they will accept.
  • Mobile phones are accepted for recycling at some Household Recycling Centres or trade them for recycling when you buy a new one or search online for a national recycling scheme. Even broken phones can be sold for recycling.

Cllr Emma Stokes, Executive Board Member for Environment and Street Scene on Wychavon District Council, said: "By recycling your batteries properly, you aren't only helping to reduce fires and protect waste and recycling staff, but you are also helping the planet. Batteries contain precious metals that have to be extracted from the Earth with a significant environmental cost. They are better off being recycled and reused in other products than being dumped in your rubbish."

Julie Fourcade, Head of External Affairs for FCC Environment, said: "We are pleased to support Wychavon with the ESA campaign to help prevent waste and recycling fires caused by batteries that have not been disposed of properly. Everyone has a part to play in this important campaign to ensure both public safety and that of our staff working so hard to serve their communities."

Jacob Hayler, Executive Director of the Environmental Services Association (ESA), added: "Unfortunately, the majority of batteries thrown away in the UK at the moment are not recycled properly. Fires caused by carelessly discarded batteries endanger lives; cause millions of pounds of damage and disrupt waste services. We urge consumers to please recycle batteries responsibly by using widely available local battery recycling services."

Take Charge is supported by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC).

Residents can find out more about the dangers of zombie batteries, by visiting the campaign website at www.takecharge.org.uk

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