New rules are “urgently required” to prevent households from throwing unwanted electrical equipment out with general waste over Christmas, the British Metal Recycling Association (BMRA) says.
In a call to local authorities, James Kelly, the CEO of the BMRA, said: “Councils need to introduce kerbside collections for discarded WEEE items.
“That is because we are seeing increased fires happening in bin lorries and at household waste recycling centres as well as metal recycling sites like those of our members where these items can end up in the incorrect waste stream. People’s lives are at risk.”
The BMRA says the fires are often caused by damaged lithium and lithium-ion batteries inside discarded electrical items. Research by the Recycle Your Electricals campaign led by Material Focus shows they can now be linked to 700 fires in the past 12 months, the BMRA says.
Almost two fires a day across the country can now be linked to these batteries, according to new research.
According to the results of the recent survey by Material Focus, nearly 90% of the 60 local authorities surveyed said fires caused by batteries are “an increasing problem.”
Earlier this month (December) London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, said he had “serious safety concerns” about some lithium-ion batteries used in privately owned e-scooters and online conversion kits.
His warning came after the London Fire Brigade reported there had been 130 fires this year involving the batteries, 65 used by e-bikes, 24 used by e-scooters and the remainder involving those used in e-cigarettes, the BMRA says.
Kelly continued: “Almost two fires a day across the country can now be linked to these batteries, according to new research. In the space of 10 weeks, thanks to Black Friday deals, Christmas gifts, Boxing Day sales and January sales, we are likely to see millions of electrical items discarded.
“If there is not an easy option, such as kerbside collection, it is likely that much of this will be disposed of incorrectly. This massively increases the risk of fires across the waste sector. That is why we need to see kerbside collections introduced right away.”