Disposal of Batteries & Pressurised Containers
Please don’t put hazardous items like batteries and pressurised containers in general waste bins; it is a massive risk to personal safety.
Across the ASH Group we handle thousands of tonnes of waste every single day. The overwhelming majority of this is material which conforms with the expected waste type, i.e. it is exactly what we expect it to be. We are set up to deal with that in both our collection vehicle and across our different sites, and it enables us to service our customers as they would expect.
An extremely small amount of the waste we handle is the polar opposite of this; contaminated waste that can cause havoc in our vehicles or at our sites. There is a very real danger of damage to vehicles, property or equipment, or putting people at risk of serious injury, or worse.
The main issues are caused by two items:
- Batteries, whether loose or within equipment like vape devices
- Pressurised containers, like aerosols, nitrous oxide canisters and camping gas cylinders
The dangers posed by batteries are all too well known within the waste management industry. There probably isn’t a single operator who has not had a fire, incident or near-miss which has been caused by a battery. Fires in collection vehicles are, sadly, a regular thing; just search “bin lorry fire” into the Google search engine and you’ll see how commonplace it is, especially if you consider this is just the tip of the iceberg.
If a battery makes it to a waste facility without igniting, there is a good chance it will be squashed, punctured, or shredded once it gets to a waste facility and is put through machinery like a shredder. Again, the result is likely to be a fire or explosion.
Footage from our fire detection system shortly after a battery was tracked over by machinery. The exploded material shot into an adjacent waste pile and ignited. Thankfully our fire suppression system kicked in and a major incident was averted.
Our operatives are trained as to what to do in these situations and our waste facilities have fire detection and suppression systems so that a fire can be prevented or extinguished. But it shouldn’t need this and we must never get complacent when you consider the risks.
It is batteries of all shapes and sizes, or batteries contained within other items. A common form of this is with disposable vape devices; it is staggering how many of these items end up in mixed waste streams. We’ve had several incidents and near-misses involving disposable vapes. The battery doesn’t need to be industrial; a simple AA battery is enough to create a safety and environmental disaster. Laptop batteries, equipment batteries, cell batteries, industrial batteries, household batteries – they all carry the same risk. Even when ‘flat’ it still carries enough charge to wreak havoc.