Aberdeen recycling fire: People urged not to throw away batteries




  • In Science
  • 2022-12-01 12:08:13Z
  • By BBC

The operator of an Aberdeen recycling centre hit by a devastating fire has urged people not to dispose of batteries carelessly.

More than 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Suez plant in the city's Altens area in July.

The company believes it was likely to have been caused by a battery or battery-operated device that had been put into a recycling bin.

Lithium-ion batteries can explode if damaged or crushed.

People are being urged to use specialist battery and electrical device recycling services.

Suez released images of the Aberdeen fire taking hold as local authorities said batteries thrown in household rubbish bins caused about 700 fires every year in dustcarts and waste-processing centres.

The Environmental Services Association said the resulting fires cost fire services and waste operators about £158m a year.

Found in small, rechargeable devices such as toothbrushes, toys, phones and laptops, lithium-ion batteries have become more powerful in recent years.

Smaller, frequently used and cheaper devices - even some musical greeting cards - often have hidden batteries.

Altens recycling centre
Altens recycling centre  

Suez said that while impossible to prove conclusively, it believed it was "highly probable" the Altens fire was caused by a battery or battery-operated device that a resident had put into their recycling bin.

"To see such an important facility that provided an essential service for Aberdeen residents be destroyed by something as avoidable as a battery being put in a bin is devastating," Suez production operations manager Colin Forshaw said.

"We would ask all residents to never bin batteries but instead dispose of them responsibly and if in doubt of where to take them, please check on your local authority website."

In October, a joint fire service and police probe concluded the fire was accidental, but that the precise cause could not be determined.

Non-profit organisation Material Focus, which surveyed local authorities, runs an online search tool to help people find their nearest recycling point.

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