Battery fires have plagued the ITAD industry for years, namely Lithium-Ion batteries. Device processing can be rigorous, and when LIBs are damaged, they can potentially cause chemical fires. The need for battery safety is increasing. Last week ISRI and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) hosted a briefing with the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on safely handling, transporting, and recycling lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries are in almost every electronic device used today, such as smartphones, smartwatches, earbuds, laptops, small appliances, and vapes. The problem is that these devices are typically thrown out with municipal waste, which causes them to end up in the residential recycling and waste streams, where they can catch fire.
ISRI President Robin Wiener said, “As further innovation in the manufacturing of consumer products and the move towards electrification and decarbonization grows, more lithium-ion batteries and other battery chemistries are going to be introduced into recycling and waste streams. This risk is not going to go away.”
Several industry experts on the panel gave their perspectives on the issue, including HOBI’s President and Co-Founder Craig Boswell, who pointed out that $1 billion in private money has been invested into battery recycling over the past five years in addition to the Department of Energy’s $350 million credit facility to expand further and recover precious metals found in batteries. Boswell, also a member of ISRI and former ISRI Electronics Division Chair, noted that while the infrastructure and the demand from various industries are in place for battery recycling, batteries are still ending up in municipal recycling and waste streams.
Highlighted legislative efforts include The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which provides $275 million for solid waste infrastructure for recycling grants, and the $25 million allocated to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to increase battery collection and recycling nationwide.
According to ISRI News, the panel agreed that the best way to combat these fires is to educate the public.
If you find yourself with old electronics, finding an e-waste disposal facility is the best course of action to prevent battery fires. Many cities have drop-off sites for electronics and apps to find one nearest you. IT asset disposition facilities like HOBI partner with enterprises that need a disposition plan and ensure their retired IT hardware is disposed of properly.
For more information about our ITAD services, call 817-814-2620 or contact HOBI at firstname.lastname@example.org.