Battery likely cause of ecomaine Recycling Center fire

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Wolff, Communications Manager
Desk: 207-523-3108     Cell: 207-653-3881
wolff@ecomaine.org

 

ecomaine provides tips for how to properly dispose of batteries for the holidays

PORTLAND, Maine – Dec. 20, 2017 – ecomaine Recycling Center employees’ swift action to extinguish a fire averted what could have been total destruction of ecomaine’s single-sort recycling facility earlier this month. The cause of the fire is suspected to have been a Lithium Ion battery that should never have made its way into the facility in the first place.

See how fast the fire ignited in this 90-second video: https://youtu.be/WsUjSE-ibKo

“Lithium Ion batteries, unfortunately, have become a regular source of dangerous fires in both our Recycling Center and Waste-to-Energy plant, posing real risks to the safety of our employees and to our equipment and buildings,” said Kevin Roche, Chief Executive Officer of ecomaine, the nonprofit waste company that processes single-sort recycling and municipal solid waste for a third of Maine’s residents. “We are asking all residents of Maine to use extra caution when disposing of Lithium Ion batteries.”

Lithium Ion batteries are commonly found in rechargeable batteries used in laptops, cell phones, assorted mobile devices, cameras, power tools and an ever-growing list of electronic gadgets. The list of products containing these batteries is changing all the time, which makes it more difficult to determine the fire threat of a range of electronic devices.

“Lithium Ion batteries used to be a specialty battery, but that is not the case any more,” said Carole Cifrino of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection, who urges consumers to consult with Call2Recycle before disposing of batteries or anything containing a battery.

As handler of a third of Maine’s trash and recyclables, ecomaine is urging consumers to take extra-special precautions when disposing of batteries this holiday season. Here are five steps consumers can take to prevent fires and dispose responsibly of batteries:

  1. Never dispose of electronic waste or batteries in your single-sort recycling bin or cart! Don’t be fooled by the recycling symbols that sometimes appear on rechargeable batteries – these are intended to promote programs such as Call2Recycle, not municipal single-sort recycling programs.
  2. If your device still works, donate it to a Goodwill store to be responsibly handled by Goodwill’s GoodTech program or to be recycled if it can’t be refurbished.
  3. Before disposing of any battery-containing device, consult with call2recycle.org to find the nearest rechargeable battery collection point. If your town’s transfer station does not have a battery recycling receptacle, tell them about the free municipal rechargeable battery collection boxes available from Call2Recycle.
  4. When deciding if it is safe to place a device or battery in your garbage, be sure to read the battery’s label closely. If it contains Lithium, it poses a fire threat and should not be placed in any curbside trash bins destined for compactor trucks. Single-use alkaline batteries, however, can be handled through ecomaine’s waste-to-energy facility where any ferrous metals are also collected with the post-burn metal for recycling.
  5. Download ecomaine’s free RECYCLOPEDIA app for easy access to answers to your recycling and waste-management questions on more than 700 common household items, including batteries.

About ecomaine:

ecomaine is a quasi-governmental 501(c)3 organization serving 73 member communities with single-sort recycling, waste-to-energy, and food waste diversion programs. Learn more at ecomaine.org.