Be bright, don’t risk a blaze by binning your batteries

This story was published 3 December 2021

Don’t bin your old Christmas lights – anything with a plug, battery or cable can be reused or recycled in the run-up to Christmas.

Battery recycling

As people bring Christmas decorations and lights out of the loft there are bound to be flat batteries and broken electrical lights and Christmas light-up ornaments.

At least a quarter of people in the UK admit binning batteries, and many people are unaware there are embedded batteries inside electrical items – and it only takes one rogue battery to cause a fire. 

At this time of year, when people are replacing many batteries and electrical items, North Yorkshire County Council’s waste management team is asking the county’s residents never to put used batteries or electrical items containing batteries in the bin or recycling containers, because they can cause fires if they get damaged during waste processing. There have been at least 300 such fires in the UK in the last year.

Batteries retain a charge and devices including mobile phones and e-cigarettes are known to have caught fire in collection vehicles and sorting plants. There is no risk in storing batteries at home, because the fire risk arises from crushing during the collection and sorting process.

Cllr Derek Bastiman, Executive Member for Waste Management, said: “It’s easy to recycle all types of household batteries in the dedicated battery containers in many shops and community spaces, including the unmissable bright pink battery bins at all household waste recycling centres (HWRCs). At the HWRCs, you can also recycle small electrical items, such as toothbrushes, chargers, shavers, vapes and headphones, as well as larger electrical items, which can be recycled free of charge, too.”

For more information, visit Recycle Your Electricals.

HWRCs open 8.30am to 4pm every day except Wednesdays, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Please allow enough time to unload your waste before the site closes. Find your nearest HWRC.

Check with your district or borough council about kerbside refuse and recycling collections, as these will change because of the bank holidays. Some collections may be earlier than normal.

Cllr Bastiman added: “Finally, when Christmas shopping, remember it’s OK to give secondhand gifts, re-gifts, experience gifts, edible gifts and gift vouchers from your favourite local places. It doesn’t have to be just about new stuff. We can all do our bit to tackle climate change, and reducing has much more impact than recycling.”