­­Battery awaren­ess key to safer disposal


Along with the lifesaving message to change the batteries in your smoke alarm this year, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley is urging households to take an extra safety step and recycle the batteries.

Ley said knowing how to safely dispose of batteries can help avoid dangerous battery fires in landfill, where they can burn endlessly, and life-threatening fires in garbage trucks.

“Australians are throwing away around 17,000 tonnes of batteries every year – most end up in landfill where they corrode over time – leaking harmful chemicals into the soil and potentially causing fires that can burn underground for years,” Ley said.

“What is even scarier, are batteries that spark fires in garbage truck compactors as drivers do their daily suburban route.”

In 2019-20, waste management company Cleanaway had 23 incidents of batteries exploding in trucks. In 2020-21, that number jumped to 45 incidents.

A spokesperson for Cleanaway said: “Batteries from smartphones, laptops and other electronics are a growing cause of truck, facility and landfill fires. These can ignite from friction and heat, starting a fire that spreads to other flammable material nearby such as cardboard.

“Keep batteries and other household hazardous waste out of all your kerbside bins.”

Ley said there was good news on the horizon for recycling batteries, with hundreds of disposal pods around the country popping up in Woolworths, Battery World, Officeworks and Aldi stores, making household battery recycling easier and safer.

“When you drop off your old batteries in one of these pods, you will be helping to protect the environment from harmful chemicals and creating jobs in recycling and remanufacturing,” she said.

In the past three months, Australians have deposited 15 tonnes of batteries at participating Woolworths stores alone.

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