When dead batteries, or batteries lurking in waste electronic devices, are thrown away with the general rubbish or mixed with other recycling instead of being recycled responsibly, they can be dangerous. These hidden batteries are likely to be damaged once the waste is collected, which can cause serious fires and puts lives at risk.
Fortunately, everyone in the United Kingdom has access to free and convenient battery recycling services Click here to find a battery recycling service near you.
Once it’s collected from your house or workplace, your rubbish takes a beating! If you put batteries in your general rubbish, they are likely to be crushed, punctured, shredded, tumbled and exposed to liquids. When batteries become badly damaged, not only can their hazardous contents leak out and cause environmental harm, but some batteries can become very hot and set fire to other waste material around them, causing large fires and putting recycling and waste workers at risk.

After your normal household recycling is collected, it goes through various hand and mechanical sorting processes to make it ready to be turned into new things. These processes are not designed to accept batteries, so batteries can end up contaminating your recycling or can be easily damaged during sorting. Damaged batteries can ignite and, when they do, they’re often in the presence of lots of flammable material like paper and card. This creates big fires quickly. 

Some local councils offer a kerbside battery recycling service where batteries are collected separately alongside your normal recycling – check your council’s website to see if this is available where you live. Otherwise, please take your batteries to a designated battery recycling point.

Most batteries can become dangerous if they are not recycled responsibly but some can be particularly prone to causing fires when mixed with other rubbish.

Certain rechargeable battery types most often found in portable electronic devices like laptops, tablets, mobile phones, cameras, power-tools, remote-controlled toys and even e-cigarettes, are particularly prone to causing fires because they can release lots of energy quickly, and in an uncontrolled way, if they are damaged or exposed to liquids.

The use of Lithium-Ion batteries is rapidly increasing across a wide range of products. Although safe to use normally, if severely damaged, these batteries can be particularly dangerous, so please recycle them responsibly. Find out more about battery recycling.

When you recycle batteries responsibly, the batteries are collected together, only alongside other batteries, in safe containers. They are then collected securely and taken to facilities which specialise in safe battery sorting and recycling. By rounding up used batteries like this, we can prevent them from damaging normal waste and recycling facilities that are not designed to deal with them.
Although there are lots of different types of battery, they can all be recycled for free at the same recycling point and you don’t need to be able to tell what sort of battery it is. The one exception to this is larger bulky lead-acid car batteries, which usually need to be taken to a special recycling point at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC). All of your normal household batteries and electronic devices can be recycled through dedicated recycling banks and other local services.

If you can remove the battery from the product, please do so. Batteries and waste electrical items should be recycled separately.

Some electronic devices contain rechargeable batteries which cannot be easily removed from the product – for example, things like electric toothbrushes and newer mobile phones. If you no longer want one of these products, you should not attempt to remove the battery yourself. Instead, if the product is in working order, please consider selling or donating it (if it’s a phone….not a toothbrush) so that it can be used for as long as possible.

If the product is broken, some online companies may still actually pay you for it, so it’s worth checking online first before recycling it.

If the product is broken and you wish to recycle it, please recycle it with the batteryinside alongside other small waste electrical items (WEEE) at your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC). Some councils offer a kerbside recycling collection for small waste electrical items, so check your council’s website to see if this is available in your area.

This campaign has been started by the ESA. Find out more about us and the work we do…

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