Across the globe, many organizations and businesses have adopted battery recycling as part of their corporate social responsibility programs. To keep up with the evolving battery landscape, enhanced education and awareness are needed.
A timely example that underscores the need for more education is the wave of media stories linking batteries (specifically damaged lithium-based) to fires at recycling and waste facilities. These instances have thrust battery safety into the spotlight, making it increasingly important to identify and correctly dispose of these battery types. This includes being prepared to handle damaged batteries when they show up in your collection stream or program.
With growing battery use, there is a critical need to address damaged batteries. Batteries can become damaged in several ways, including exposure to different elements, temperatures or even accidental impact. One of the most troublesome causes of damaged batteries is the attempt to remove batteries from products that were never intended to be removed.
Damaged lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries are specially regulated by the U.S. DOT and have special handling and shipping requirements. To keep your facility and staff protected against potential risks with damaged batteries, consider these steps:
The More You Know
Educating staff on how to identify the types of damaged batteries that pose a threat is a good starting point. The physical damaging effects on these batteries can be seen through bulging, bloating, punctures, leaking or corrosion. As lithium-based batteries come in different shapes and sizes, it makes the identification process all the more important, especially as these batteries can be co-mingled with other mixed materials. Once these batteries are identified, they must be properly handled.
Handle with Care
Since these battery types require special handling and shipping, you can’t simply place them in a cardboard or plastic collection container as that will not provide proper protection. To safely store the damaged batteries or devices, place them in a non-flammable substance such as sand or kitty litter, following internal procedures for handling household hazardous waste. For responsible disposal and shipping, secure a specialty kit that complies with U.S. DOT requirements. Call2Recycle offers such a kit, which you can explore by contacting Call2Recycle Customer Service.
Safe and Sustainable
Understanding how to identify and properly handle damaged batteries can help protect people and property while doing something good for the planet. As battery use continues to soar, there will inevitably be instances of lithium-based batteries in the waste stream. Increased awareness, knowledge and safety practices are good ways to combat the issue.
Call2Recycle’s recently launched “Avoid the Spark. Be Battery Safety Smart.” campaign is one example of proactive outreach. By sharing hidden dangers that can arise from improper battery disposal (specifically lithium-based) the goal is to shift behaviors to not trash batteries, which prevents them from ever entering the waste stream. Continued work from municipalities, collection sites, county programs, and consumers to educate on safe battery disposal can help pave the way for a safer and cleaner tomorrow.
Learn more about Call2Recycle.