They’re in our smartphones, laptops and wrist watches. They also power our weed eaters and power drills. Lithium batteries are in many everyday items because they provide more energy than other types of batteries, last longer, and are rechargeable. Many of us enjoy the benefits of these powerful batteries, but we are mostly unaware that these batteries can cause fires if they are thrown away in trash or recycling carts.
In the past few months, The Valley Transfer Station and Spokane’s Waste to Energy Facility have had multiple fires on their tipping floors that were caused by lithium batteries. Fires in solid waste collection trucks also can be caused by these batteries.
There is no cost for Spokane City or County residents. Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s will take rechargeable batteries at drop boxes inside their stores.
So what items contain lithium batteries and require special disposal?
Laptops, e-cigarettes and vape pens, smartphones, watches, and rechargeable power tool batteries are just a few items to look out for. As you buy rechargeable items, check for disposal information which may just appear as a trash can with an “X” through it. This means the item probably has a lithium battery and must be managed separately.
The only way to prevent these fires is to manage your batteries properly. Know before you throw!