Fires in waste vehicles are up by 37.5% since 2017 and recycling and waste plants suffer more than 300 fires each year, many of which are sparked by lithium ion batteries damaged in transit.
Additionally, YouGov research released this week showed that only 43% of the public realise that lithium ion batteries can cause fires if damaged, and only just over half of people always remove batteries when disposing of their old electronics.
Battery fires start when batteries are damaged, often by waste vehicles’ compactors, and come into contact with flammable waste such as paper or plastic.
Batteries are also unnecessarily wasted in landfill, as they can be processed to recover valuable minerals such as cobalt and nickel.
To ensure the safe recycling of batteries, Veolia urges the public to remove them from electronic devices and place them in special disposal containers such as those available at the company’s household waste and recycling centres (HWRCs).
Veolia has 113 HWRCs in the UK.
Gavin Graveson, executive vice president at Veolia UK and Ireland, said: “Battery-induced fires are a serious and unfortunately growing hazard that Veolia is combatting.
“While enjoying your new electronics this year, make sure to take care when recycling your old ones.
“The average UK resident throws away around 24.5kg of electronics every year.
“These materials, if treated properly, can be a gift to the planet, returning valuable resources back to be used again – so we can, for example, move to electric vehicles more rapidly with less impact from mining more resources.”