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Zombie Batteries: Recycling fire hazards?

We all rely on technology so much these days, from our mobile phones to our toothbrushes, but zombie batteries have hit headlines recently due to people not recycling them properly and the harm they can cause. 

Our reliance on electronic devices means more and more batteries are in our homes, but when it comes to recycling, it seems that only around 45% of all batteries in the UK are being recycled properly. So what is happening to the other 55%? 

This month, at Woodford Recycling, we’ll talk you through what zombie batteries are, how you can help prevent this recycling fire hazard.

What are zombie batteries?

It’s a slightly playful name, but the reality is quite serious. More and more people are casually disposing of their batteries – often inside devices – in their normal waste. 

Zombie batteries are those which are thought to be dead or past their usable point, but which still pose a threat. Batteries such as lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride can explode or catch fire when they’re damaged. As you can imagine, this is a huge danger in waste facilities as they try to process materials collected for disposal or recycling. 

There have been plenty of instances where people have been put at risk because batteries explode, shoot out sparks or create plumes of smoke when catching fire. This can cause extreme injury as it’s often unexpected since batteries should be recycled separately.

How can I recycle batteries safely?

Batteries – including those found in your electronic devices – should never be put in your ordinary waste. There are plenty of battery recycling schemes available across the UK, usually as collection points in supermarkets or DIY stores where you can simply drop your old or dead batteries in for recycling. Household waste recycling centres will also take your old batteries, keeping them separate from other waste.

Some councils across the UK – around 40% – offer a kerbside collection for your used batteries to make getting rid of them simple, but it’s important to check the services provided in your local areas for the rules you need to follow for safe disposal of your batteries.

It should be noted that car batteries are not as easy to dispose of, but trusted waste disposal companies will be able to help. At Woodford Recycling, we accept car batteries as well as ordinary batteries to help you safely get rid of these hazardous items.

What should I do with an electronic device?

Since many batteries are now found inside devices as standard, it’s often easy to forget about them. It’s recommended that if you have an electronic device with a battery in that has gone dead, you should remove it – if you can do so safely – and take it to your nearest licensed waste carrier for disposal. 

Where the battery is locked into the device, or if you’re not certain you can get it out safely, you should leave it in the device and dispose of it through a WEEE recycling service such as the one provided by our team at Woodford Recycling.

Items which you may not have considered but contain batteries which could turn into zombie batteries:

  • Electronic toothbrushes
  • Mobile phones
  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • E-cigarettes
  • Radio-controlled toys
  • Power tools
  • E-scooters

Find out how you can safely dispose of your batteries and electronic devices with Woodford Recycling. We provide dedicated services for hazardous items across Cambridge, Peterborough, Huntingdon and the surrounding region. Don’t take a risk or put other people’s lives in danger with your batteries – contact us today and we’ll be happy to help.


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