Resilient Recycler: Battery Anxiety at MRFs
"Battery fires an 'existential threat' for industry."
"Lithium-ion batteries exploding from improper disposal."
"Massive fire at recycling facility sparked by lithium-ion battery."
These are just a few headlines from July showing the rising anxiety surrounding battery fires at recycling centers known as Material Recovery Facilities, or MRFs. When batteries turn up at the MRF, they become crushed with the rest of the recyclables, which can start fires.
The lithium-ion battery is most notable for causing MRF fires because it is extremely unstable when damaged, and what better place to get damaged than at a facility that's moving and compacting thousands of pounds of recycling and trash every single day?
The bottom line is that batteries are powerful, and should never be put into your recycling cart. To properly dispose of batteries, and battery containing devices, you must first know what type of battery you have. There are dozens of different types, and knowing what you have does make a difference.
Many types of batteries can be lumped under the "household batteries" category. It includes single-use and rechargeable AA, AAA, C, D, button batteries, hearing aid and watch batteries. Clark County allows residents to recycle their household batteries by taping the ends with duct or packing tape, and placing them in a clear plastic bag on top of your blue recycling cart's lid. The driver will see the batteries and grab them, keeping them separate from the other recyclables.
Lithium-ion batteries found in everything from cell phones to hoverboards must be dropped-off at specific recycling outlets. Never put these types of batteries in your garbage or recycling. There are many free public battery collections in Clark County. To find recycling locations, use RecyclingA-Z.com, which is a comprehensive and up-to-date database for recycling in Clark County.