Metals sector calls for lithium batteries safety campaign

A government-led campaign is urgently needed to highlight the rising number of fires being caused by exploding lithium-ion batteries, says the British Metals Recycling Association.

The campaign call comes after the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) last week urged businesses importing and selling e-scooters, e-bikes and conversion kits to ensure that the products fully comply with product safety laws.

The need for a campaign partly reflects concerns of BMRA members who have suffered fires at their metals sites, many of which have been attributed to lithium batteries.

Fires ‘150% up’

Householders have been warned by Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service not to use lithium batteries from electrical goods from reputable sellers and to use the correct charger

The trading standards institute cited a Zurich Insurance report which found that the number of fires caused by lithium-ion e-scooter and e-bike batteries in the UK has surged almost 150% over the past year. In London alone, firefighters attended 88 fires caused by e-bikes in 2022 – an increase of 80% on the 49 responded to in 2021.

Now the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA) in its move to get the government to run a campaign says that the battery problems has “been ignored for too long”.


James Kelly, chief executive of the BMRA, said: “These figures underline the need, once again, for more education and communication about the dangers of lithium-ion batteries found in rechargeable items, including e-bikes and e-scooters. This is a growing problem, which is putting the safety of members of the public, and those working right across the recycling sector at risk. For too long it has been ignored, which is why the BMRA is now calling for a government supported campaign to better inform the public of the hazards both for safe use and disposal of lithium-ion batteries.”

James Kelly is the BMRA’s chief executive

Freedom of information data, said the BMRA, has revealed that e-scooters and e-bikes were responsible for 167 fires in 2021, compared with just 67 in 2020.

And it noted that many fires have been attributed to conversion kits used to turn a standard bike into an electric one.

The trading standards institute says consumers should check if their bike displays a valid UKCA or CE safety mark.


The BMRA has long-campaigned for greater awareness on the issues of fires from lithium batteries. In December it said new rules were “urgently required” to prevent households throwing unwanted electrical equipment out with the general waste following Christmas.

Councils need to introduce kerbside collections for discarded WEEE items

– James Kelly, BMRA

The association notes that waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) are also linked to three times more fires inside bin lorries and at household waste recycling centres than initially thought. It reasons that local authorities should carry out kerbside collections of WEEE.

Mr Kelly added: “Councils need to introduce kerbside collections for discarded WEEE items. That is because we are seeing increased fires happening in bin lorries and at household waste recycling centres as well as metal recycling sites like those of our members where these items can end up in the incorrect waste stream. People’s lives are at risk.”


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