“Stop Battery Fires” public safety film launched

A used batteries collection point at a recycling facility in Bunya, Australia in February 2022.

Film aims to raise awareness of fires caused by batteries in the waste stream 

An apparent growth in reports of fires caused by batteries and electricals containing batteries in the waste and recycling system, has prompted Material Focus – a not-for-profit focused on electricals recycling – to release a public safety film addressing the issue.

“Stop Battery Fires” has been created in partnership with the UK’s National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), and is now available for local authorities to share. Material Focus is also calling on local authorities to participate in the 2023 “Stop Battery Fires Survey” that will assess the scale and impact of battery fires across the UK.

The film emphasises the dangers of throwing away batteries, and the importance of never binning and always recycling batteries and electricals containing batteries. Material Focus says it made the film for local authorities to share and help their residents understand how to properly dispose of their batteries and electricals, with the aim to reduce battery fires in bin lorries and at waste and recycling centres. A copy of the film can be downloaded in Material Focus’s battery fire comms toolkit which also includes social media templates and other assets.

Last year a Material Focus survey amongst local authorities identified that there were over 700 battery fires in the waste and recycling system across the UK. Material Focus is calling on local authorities to again participate in the 2023 survey to update the picture of what is happening now. To participate in the survey please click on the survey link. Last year over 60 Local Authorities answered the survey and their answers formed a key component of Material Focus’s work on its “Stop Battery Fires” campaign. The results were used in over 400 pieces of media coverage including the BBC national and local radio stations, helping to raise awareness of the issue and what actions could be taken.

Mark Andrews, NFCC waste fires lead said: “Fire and rescue services see first hand the impact of fires caused by the incorrect disposal of batteries and electrical items. The ‘Stop Battery Fires’ campaign and film will help support local authorities in raising awareness of this issue.

“We need householders to play their part in reducing these fires which can have a devastating impact on local communities and their environment. And they can pose a real risk to staff working in the waste and recycling centres.”

Scott Butler, Executive Director of Material Focus said: ”Local authorities play a pivotal role in ensuring the safety and well-being of their communities. Material Focus urges all local authorities to share the film to raise awareness of the dangers of battery fires, and provide their residents with clear information on the importance of never binning and always recycling batteries and electricals containing batteries. People should search Recycle Your Electricals and pop in their postcode to find their nearest recycling points.

“Local authorities participation in the battery fire survey is invaluable so that we can all improve our understanding of the scale and impact of battery fires across the UK. By completing the survey, local authorities will contribute to raising awareness of the key actions that householders can take to ensure that they safely recycle batteries and hidden batteries and protect their communities from the devastating impact battery fires can have.”

Help raise awareness and change public behaviour

The “Stop Batteries Fires Survey” will take 5 minutes to complete. With over 700 reported fires across the UK last year alone, having trend data is key to getting the public to pay attention and change their behaviour. The survey results will be anonymised so that the answers won’t be attributed back to any specific local authority.  Material Focus is also looking for  case studies of local authorities experience of battery fires as these can be incredibly powerful, if you are interested please get in touch by emailing hello@materialfocus.org.uk