Material Focus reports 71% increase in battery fires since 2022

According to Material Focus, battery fires in bin lorries and at waste sites in the UK have reached an “all-time high” with over 1,200 reported in the last year. This an increase of 71% from 700 in 2022. 

A survey of local authorities across the UK has also found that 94% have stated that fires caused by batteries in the waste stream were an “increasing challenge”.  

Material Focus reported that due to a rise in the number of portable electrical items containing lithium-ion batteries, there is an increased fire risk if they are binned instead of being recycled.  

It has highlighted that a “Stop Battery Fires campaign” from Recycle Your Electricals and the National Fire Chiefs council has been launched to raise awareness of the importance of electricals and battery recycling. 

Phil Clark from the National Fire Chiefs council said: “Fires involving the incorrect disposal of lithium-ion batteries are a disaster waiting to happen. Fire services are seeing an increasing number of incidents, but they are preventable by correctly and carefully disposing of electricals.” 


Research from Recycle Your Electricals, conducted by Opinium, has recorded over 1.1 billion electricals and 449. 9 million loose batteries were binned in the last year. 

It also highlighted that on average UK adults binned 24 batteries, including 15 electricals containing batteries and nine loose batteries. This included 260 million vapes.  

The study also showed that nearly half of UK adults who took part in the research “did not know” or “hadn’t heard” that electrical items containing chargeable built-in batteries could catch fire if crushed or damaged. 


Scott Butler, executive director of Recycle Your Electricals, said: “With more and more products containing lithium-ion batteries, and battery fires on the rise, it’s vital that we stop these fires and reduce the air pollution impact that they have on our local communities and the dangers they present to fire fighters and waste officers.  

“We are also throwing away some of the most precious materials on the planet which are vital to our economy. We are calling on everyone to make sure that they never bin and always recycle their electricals and their batteries. Just search recycle your electricals to find your nearest drop off point.”    


Material Focus has also reported that the cost of battery fires is “significant”. Insurance company, Zurich UK, highlighted that it has seen insurance claims go up to £20 million.  

James Nicholson, chief claims officer at Zurich UK, said: “Lithium battery related fires have become a real concern over recent years, as each year we’re seeing more and more, whether that’s in bin lorries or waste centres. Not only can they cause a considerable amount of damage, but they can also cause a lot of upheaval while damage is repaired.” 

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One response to “Material Focus reports 71% increase in battery fires since 2022

  1. I’ve noticed that some Councils and Waste & Recycling Centres have given their Customers more information on how to present batteries safely eg taping over the terminals so that they can’t touch. Some have also asked for no aerosol cans to be put in their recycling collections as these too can become a problem when crushed.

    Perhaps more Councils and Waste & Recycling Centres could also add this info.

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