If you take a tour of Eureka’s MRF, you will probably hear people talking about the F-word. It’s not what you think! In MRFs like ours, fires can be so dangerous, we don’t even like to say the word out loud. One of our biggest F-word risks is lithium batteries incorrectly placed in recycling carts and transported to the MRF.
Lithium batteries have become a pervasive presence in our lives, powering everything from smartphones to electric vehicles. While these batteries offer many benefits, they also come with some serious risks, particularly when it comes to their disposal.
Lithium Batteries Cause Fires!
Lithium batteries contain highly reactive materials that can catch fire if they are damaged or exposed to heat. In collection trucks and MRFs, where materials are compacted, crushed, and shredded, the risk of a damaged lithium battery starting a fire is high. Even a small puncture or crack in a battery can lead to a fire that spreads rapidly through the facility.
Once a fire starts in a MRF, it can be extremely difficult to extinguish. Lithium battery fires burn at extremely high temperatures and can produce toxic fumes that are harmful to workers. In addition to putting crews at risk, fires in MRFs can also cause significant damage to equipment and infrastructure, leading to costly repairs and downtime.
Where to Dispose of Batteries
It is crucial to take proper precautions when handling and disposing of these batteries. This includes separating batteries from other recyclables and disposing of them in designated containers. Check with your county or city about options for disposing of lithium and other types of batteries. In Hennepin County, there are free drop-off facilities in both Bloomington and Brooklyn park. In Ramsey County, there are Free Household Hazardous Waste drop-off centers in St. Paul and Maplewood.
By taking the time to properly dispose of these batteries in designated drop-off locations or battery recycling programs, we can minimize the risks of fires and other hazardous incidents in material recovery facilities and ensure that valuable resources like lithium batteries are recycled safely and sustainably. Let’s work together to protect our workers, our environment, and our communities – and keep Eureka F-word free!
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