Incorrectly disposed of the trash with lithium batteries in refuse treatment companies ignite dangerous fire.


According to researchers from the Montanuniversität Leoben, lithium batteries disposed of with residual waste in the sorting plants cause up to 70 potential fire accidents every year. The affected companies quantify the damage incurred in the past five years to around 100 million euros.

You can find the powerful energy sources in cell phones, laptops, e-bikes, cordless drums, drones and flashing children’s shoes. “We have been researching the causes of fire in waste management for years and came to a clear conclusion: Lithium batteries in residual waste are the main cause,” said Roland Pomberger, head of the BatSAFE research project at Montanuniversität, at the recycling conference DepoTech in Leoben, which was opened on Wednesday.

In Austria, about 700,000 lithium batteries end up in residual waste. Because the use is increasing rapidly and steadily, this number could increase to as much as three million by 2025. The legally required collection rate is 45 percent, and in fact about half of the batteries are recycled.

“Apart from a financial disaster, the fires are also an enormous safety issue for our member companies, because people who put themselves at great risk every day are working there,” said Hans Roth, President of the Association of Austrian Waste Management Companies (VOEB). “A collection rate of 80, 90 percent could solve the problem relatively easily,” said Pomberger.

Here is the policy required:

In addition to a higher quota, manufacturers would have to work to make lithium batteries safer. Otherwise, a ban on sales should threaten. Only as a “last resort” see the disposers a pledge solution. First and foremost, people need to be better informed – about the correct delivery in the municipal collection points or shops that sell batteries and rechargeable batteries. They are also used for example in digicams, electric scooters, electric cars and electric boats, in model making and in children’s toys.

Sources: Die Presse