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‘Zombie’ batteries blamed for hundreds of fires every year

Residents in Hull are being urged to dispose of their batteries in a responsible way.

The reminder comes after a number of unintended fires in waste collections and at local household waste recycling centres (HWRCs) have been caused by carelessly discarded dead batteries.

Dead batteries thrown away with other waste and recycling, often referred to as ‘zombie batteries’, are likely to be crushed or punctured once the waste is collected and processed. Some battery types in particular, like lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH), 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.

These batteries are often found in products like laptops, tablets, mobile phones, radio-controlled toys, Bluetooth devices, shavers, electric toothbrushes, power tools, scooters and even e-cigarettes.

The ‘Take Charge’ campaign launched by the Environmental Services Association (ESA) found that between April 2019 and March 2020, lithium-ion batteries alone were thought to be responsible for more than 250 fires at HWRC facilities during the year.

Councillor Anita Harrison, portfolio holder for waste management at Hull City Council, said: “Disposing of batteries in the correct way is critical to ensuring the effort that our residents put into recycling can be maintained.

“Residents can do this by recycling their batteries at the household waste recycling centres in Hull.  There are also battery collection points at supermarkets and other major retailers.

“Hull is a city that encourages recycling. We provide a well-used range of services in Hull including three Household Waste and Recycling Centres, and every household is entitled to one free bulky item collection a year of up to five items.”

Residents looking to dispose of dead batteries in the Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire areas can take them to one of their local HWRCs or other local collection points.

People can also take used batteries to:

  • Local shops and supermarkets – most stores that sell batteries will have a battery recycling point or container which residents can put their used ones into
  • To find your nearest location to recycle batteries just visit the Bring Back Heavy Metal website

To find out more about the campaign, visit the Take Charge website.

Julia Weldon, Hull's Director of Public Health sits at her desk. She is wearing a red check jacket and has a serious expression