Experts warn against throwing cellphone batteries in the trash as they can turn into real firebombs for trash collectors. It takes just one spark for a lithium-ion battery to catch fire and turn the garbage truck into a blazing inferno.
USA Today found that 65% of fires at California’s waste facilities were caused by improperly discarded cellphone batteries. Many of the fires were incredibly hard to contain as nearby batteries and highly flammable material caught fire in the process.
Waste workers are concerned about lithium-ion batteries ending up in the garbage truck and even recycling bins. This year, a five-alarm fire in New York was caused by a discarded lithium-ion battery. It took fire crews two days to put out the fire, while the smoke led to the partial shutdown of the Long Island Rail Road for multiple hours.
In 2017, a battery exploded in a garbage truck after being compacted. California warns residents not to discard their old batteries in the trash. Most people falsely believe that the batteries are safe to throw especially since they have no energy in them.
Lithium battery catching fire
But some batteries can produce an electrical charge and blow up. This happens when the battery’s electrical contacts’ touch a metallic material like the garbage truck. If the truck is packed with burnable materials, the batteries can lead to a massive blaze.
Experts recommend inserting the batteries in plastic bags to prevent accidental ignition. Many cities and stores have battery recycling programs. Make sure you dispose your batteries at the special locations in Best Buy, Home Depot, and Lowes.
Putting the batteries in plastic bags can bar them from touching other metal even in recycling bins. If you put them in the trash, it is very likely that they will get crushed and explode, putting the lives of many trash collectors at risk.
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