Pause for thought as WEEE facilities burn


Modern lithium batteries such as those used in mobile phones have been blamed for the recent spate of fires at WEEE facilities.

Wiser Recycling is taking steps towards rebuilding a recycling and reuse presence in St Ives, Cambridgeshire following the fire that devastated the firm’s WEEE facility in September. A spate of similar fires across the UK in the past eight months make it an issue worthy of reflection.

In March and April there were incidences in East Northamptonshire and Warrington, both of batteries catching fire in dustcarts. Earlier in June ViroGreen was reported to have had a fire break out in a container of WEEE in Worsley. Other WEEE related major fires at EMR in Liverpool and Universal in Mexborough have been reported, though as yet “we are unsure as to the source of those fires” said Wiser Recycling. Many of the fires have been blamed on modern lithium batteries which can turn volatile and heat quickly with a small amount of damage. With these batteries used widely in laptops, etc, the problem isn’t going to go away, and is one of the major concerns of the recycling industry.

MD of Wiser Recycling, Russell Hirst said the risk from batteries was very real. “In an effort to reduce the risk, we are currently in discussion with a university, engineers and fire suppression companies with a view to working together to ensure that we can confidently replace our small WEEE systems and implement a fire suppression system that will greatly reduce the risk of fire.”

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