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Summertime peak in fires at recycling sites

During the past 12 months, a total of 323 fire were reported at waste and recycling facilities in both the US and Canada. ‘This June alone, there were 10 reported injuries to fire professionals,’ reports fire safety expert Ryan Fogelman of Fire Rover.

‘In June, a harsh reality hit,’ Fogelman says. He cites the traditional “summertime spike” is once again a fact. So far, April, May and June saw the highest number of fires this year. 

‘Even with all of the work we are doing, the problem driven by lithium-ion batteries seems to be getting worse,’ Fogelman exclaims. If 2019 trends hold true, reported fire incidents in waste/paper/plastics facilities will have increased 14% over the 2016-2018 average by year’s end. ‘The sheer number of lithium-ion batteries that are getting into our waste and recycling streams is increasing on a daily basis,’ the fire safety specialist urges.

The good news is that the industry is making progrss. For example, California Assembly Bill 1509 – the Lithium-Ion Battery Fire Prevention Act – would require any businesses selling lithium-ion batteries to offer a safe collection point for the used lithium-ion batteries. The bill highlights a fact presented by Resource Recycling Systems that estimates between 75% and 92% of lithium-ion batteries are disposed of improperly.

Fogelman points out one obvious issue: ‘The reality is that even when the public is educated on how to handle and dispose of lithium-ion batteries properly, there are not enough convenient locations to properly recycle them. I stress convenience, which is a problem that this bill is taking a first step to solve.’

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