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Extend kerbside collections to reduce scrap fire risk, says BMRA

The UK Government is being urged to legislate for kerbside collections of unwanted waste electrical equipment (WEEE) and lithium-ion batteries because of the danger from fire.

The British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) also argues that households should be banned from placing unwanted e-scrap and lithium-ion batteries in general waste collection bins. The BMRA says the change is needed because the waste and recycling sector is witnessing an ever-increasing number of fires caused by the items, including e-cigarettes.

Antonia Grey, head of policy and public affairs at the BMRA, says: ‘Householders need to be taken out of the equation as far as possible when it comes to the disposal of single use vapes and waste electrical and electronic equipment. The Government needs to introduce kerbside collections, and it needs to be done before someone is seriously injured or even killed.’

A study carried out by Materials Focus found that more than 600 fires in bin lorries and recycling centres have been caused by batteries, often those hidden inside WEEE. Separately, data from the Environmental Services Association, which represents waste management companies, found lithium-ion batteries were responsible for around 48% (around 200) of all waste fires occurring in the UK each year which is costing around £158m annually.

Grey adds: ‘There is currently little understanding amongst the general public as to the dangers posed by incorrectly disposing of lithium-ion batteries and WEEE containing batteries, or indeed how they should be recycled. The problem is made worse by the lack of information about recycling these items and the need for the householder to take lithium-ion batteries and WEEE containing batteries to a recycling point rather than have it collected by local authorities.’

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