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A Word About Recycling with Ollie Maier

Sunday, March 17, 2019

What I thought was an interesting article in a Recycling Today newsletter is the subject for today. It concerns fires at waste and recycling facilities and a primary cause.

“Known fires in 2018 at waste and recycling facilities in North America is the focus of a new report by Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based Fire Rover, while mobile phone battery recycling service Call2Recycle has issued a new list looking at lithium-ion battery handling practices in the U.S.”

It continued that unfortunately, lithium-ion batteries are commonly discovered to be the source of waste and recycling plant fires.

In its 2018 annual report of reported waste & recycling facility fires in the U.S. & Canada, it mentions a person at Fire Rover has been tracking such fires for three years.

“I now have the baseline data required to understand and evaluate trends, and to make my best-ever recommendations to combat industry fire problems,” a spokesperson said.

He reported that although the dry, hot summer weather in 2018 plus the builtup inventories because of Chinese government restrictions also contributed to the fires, improperly disposed of lithium-ion batteries were a common cause. This was confirmed by a California Products Stewardship Council (CPSC) survey which found about 65 percent of its reported waste and recycling facility fires were caused by batteries.

Call2Recycle made a list of the top 10 battery recycling states in 2018. The list was based on the state’s per capita recycling participation. At the top of the list was Vermont. It was followed by Delaware, Georgia, Minnesota, California, Illinois, Tennessee, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington. I was not successful in my research to find where Texas was on this list.

“Batteries (especially rechargeable or lithium-ion ones) that are trashed or improperly recycled can contain a residual charge, potentially resulting in fires that can damage recycling facilities or personal property and pollute the environment,” Call2Recycle said in its report.

This is backed by a Consumer Product Safety Commission’s Status Report. The High Energy Density Batteries Project found more than 25,000 overheating or fire incidents – involving more than 400 types of lithium battery-powered products – occurred between January 2012 and July 2017.

In efforts to reduce the number of these fires, Call-2Recycle mentioned items that ranked high on its list were:

1. Strong participation from manufacturers along with public collection networks (municipalities and retailers).

2. A surge in the removal and management of damaged batteries from the market and education awareness efforts also complemented collection efforts.

I know that I am probably just “preaching to the choir,” as readers of this column probably realize this, but please be sure you don’t throw your no-longer-working lithium-ion batteries in the trash or recycled materials. Dispose of them properly.

Till next week, do have a great one...


Ollie is a local citizen concerned with the environment and helping others. A retired Air Force fighter and instructor pilot, he is a graduate of Leadership San Marcos and received his degrees at Texas State University where he worked on staff before totally retiring. For questions or comments, he invites you to call him at 512-353-7432 or e-mail

San Marcos Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666