Waste collection lorry fire prompts call for residents to recycle batteries safely

Published: Thu 27 August, 2020

A fire inside a North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC) waste collection lorry has led to residents being reminded batteries can be recycled safely at the roadside.

The incident happened yesterday (Tuesday 25 August) while the crews were out collecting black bins in Thringstone and fortunately were able to put the fire out quickly and safely before any major harm was done.

As a result of the fire, the district council has taken the opportunity to remind residents in North West Leicestershire that batteries can be recycled safely as part of the normal collection service.

On recycling collection days, both used batteries and mobile phones should be placed in separate recyclable containers and left next to the red recycling boxes. Using old jam jars or margarine tubs with a lid on to dispose of batteries is particularly useful as these can be recycled afterwards.

Types of batteries that can be recycled include:

  • All AAA and AA cells
  • Sizes C and D
  • Button batteries e.g. watch and hearing aid batteries
  • Laptop batteries
  • Power tool batteries
  • Mobile phone batteries (if removable)

Once collected by crew members, the batteries are stored in a safe compartment until they reach the NWLDC recycling depot. They are then collected by a specialist battery recycling company where they are sorted by chemistry type and shredded. Metals uncovered during the process can be used to make new batteries and in industries like the steel industry.

In addition to fire hazards which can be caused by putting old batteries in black bins, the resources and chemicals found in them such as lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and mercury can cause harm to the environment when they get to the landfill site.

Paul Sanders, Head of Community Services at NWLDC, said: “We’re extremely lucky that no residents or team members were hurt during the incident, and that the vehicle was not damaged beyond repair.

“A lot of residents might not realise that we collect batteries at the roadside and this incident presented a good opportunity to reiterate that message.”

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