DEKRA: Strict waste sorting policy required for lithium batteries

The Time Bombs at the Recycling Center

Jul 23, 2019

DEKRA warns of fire hazards as a result of the improper disposal of lithium batteries. DEKRA experts estimate that improper disposal causes fires at recycling centers on a weekly basis. The only solution is for consumers to implement a policy of strict waste sorting and effective checks.

During their audits, DEKRA experts are observing that more and more lithium batteries are ending up in residual waste and in electrical and metal scrap waste as a result of failed checks. Even simple mechanical damage to the protective sheath of an LI battery as a result of being dropped or bent can cause the battery to short-circuit. Self-ignition can result in metal fires with temperatures of between 1,000 °C and 2,000 °C, causing mountains of rubbish in recycling plants to burn uncontrollably and spread toxins.
“Consumers do not often separate batteries from the rest of their waste as is required by law,” said Andreas Biermann, a disposal expert at DEKRA Certification. “In many recycling centers, the scrap waste is not carefully inspected upon delivery either.” Another problem is caused by the design of many electrical appliances, which have encapsulated batteries that often only a specialist can remove.
There are a whole host of regulations and safety measures for the transportation and storage of lithium-ion batteries. All these regulations will be in vain, however, if LI batteries are left undetected in the garbage sent to the recycling company. DEKRA experts are therefore calling for measures that take effect right at the start of the disposal chain – principally, more information for consumers and more effective checks at collection points and recycling centers.