US EPA reports 250 lithium-ion battery fires in waste treatment facilities impacting workers, environment and recycling. Fires relating to batteries in recycling centres and other waste facilities are increasing, but with limited data, so that the 245 identified fires 2013-2020 caused by batteries are probably only part of the real problem. Recycling centres (MRF) showed most fires, but also transport vehicles and transfer sites. Nearly 80% of MRFs and 40% of landfill sites have had to call fire fighters for a lithium-ion battery (Li-B) fire in the last seven years. Some fires were large and destroyed entire facilities with millions of dollars damages, injured firefighters and/or caused facilities to stop collecting batteries, so inhibiting recycling. The EPA notes that MRFs use mechanised crushing and consolidation of waste, whereas as Li-B’s can ignite if damaged. EPA underlines that increasing use of Li-Bs will lead to increasing numbers of fires, unless there is collaboration between industry and regulators to improve management.
“An Analysis of Lithium-ion Battery Fires in Waste Management and Recycling”, US Environmental Protection Agency, July 2021, EPA 530-R-21-002 https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-08/lithium-ion-battery-report-update-7.01_508.pdf