Throwing batteries in the trash or curbside recycling bins has led to an increasing number of fires inside garbage trucks and New Jersey waste and recycling centers, prompting a new public education campaign about safe battery disposal.
Call2Recycle, the United States’ leading consumer battery stewardship and recycling program, recently announced a partnership with the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR), the Association of New Jersey Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators (ANJHHWC), and Recycle Coach to increase awareness about how to safely get rid of consumer batteries.
While many batteries can pose environmental hazards if improperly handled, rechargeable batteries — like the ones that power our phones, laptops, power tools, and other portable devices — can cause dangerous fires when disposed of incorrectly. These batteries can contain a residual charge that can spark when they come into contact with other metals, putting waste workers and local communities in danger.
The goal is to make the steps to proper battery disposal more convenient and “as seamless as possible,” said Linda Gabor, Call2Recycle’s executive vice president of external relations.
The initiative, “Avoid the Spark: Be Battery Safety Smart,” comes as New Jersey recyclers and waste facilities are experiencing a rising number of fire events that may be due to improper disposal of batteries, putting lives in danger and causing millions of dollars in property damage.
There were six likely battery-ignited fires at waste and recycling facilities in New Jersey over the course of 2020, according to Call2Recycle. Batteries can also spark fires in transit too, as happened in an Atlantic County garbage truck fire last November.
The damage from these fires is often severe. Newark’s Giordano Companies had a fire at one of its recycling facilities in July of 2020 that was likely ignited by improperly disposed batteries, resulting in injuries to two firefighters and the loss of one of its sorting systems. Atlantic Coast Fibers suffered the complete loss of a Passaic facility in a 10-alarm inferno in January 2021.
Through a series of easy-to-read educational materials, Avoid the Spark helps New Jersey residents properly identify common types of household batteries; the disposal procedures for each type; and directions on where they can safely and conveniently recycle their batteries using the Call2Recycle locator tool and the Recycle Coach app.
“These critical education materials and resources will be instrumental in teaching households to Avoid the Spark once and for all,” ANJHHWC President Jaye Sims said.
Call2Recycle has a network of battery drop-off sites across New Jersey, with nearly 380 active collection sites. New Jersey residents have recycled nearly 3.2 million pounds of batteries through Call2Recycle since its inception, and today, approximately 98% of state residents live within 10 miles of a Call2Recycle battery collection site. Despite this, battery recycling in the state dropped significantly this year, from 110,000 pounds in 2020 to 62,400 pounds of batteries recycled in 2021.
“Fire risk from improperly disposed batteries are one of the biggest threats our dedicated recyclers face every day, and we’re committed to making their jobs safer at every turn,” said ANJR President Angela Andersen. “Working with Call2Recycle, we have significant resources and expertise to draw on as we work towards making it easier than ever for households to do their part in keeping their communities safe.”
Go here to download the Avoid the Spark Battery Identification Guide flier.
About Call2Recycle, Inc.
Call2Recycle, Inc. is committed to protecting and preserving the environment through responsible end-of-life management of consumer batteries, cellphones, and related products. Founded in 1994, the not-for-profit organization works on behalf of stakeholders to provide its consumer battery recycling program to consumers across the U.S. Visit call2recycle.org.
About the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR)
The mission of the Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) is to support, promote and enhance source reduction, reuse practices, organics management, and recycling activities in the State of New Jersey. ANJR provides educational and training programs and advances policies that support sustainable materials management, which in turn benefits the environment, the communities and the economy of New Jersey. The Association of New Jersey Recyclers (ANJR) is a not-for-profit, 501(c) (3), nonpartisan network that was incorporated in 1984. ANJR’s members consist of individuals and organizations from both the public and private sectors, governmental entities, the recycling industry, and the business community. Visit anjr.com.
About The Association of New Jersey Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators (“ANJHHWC”)
The Association of New Jersey Household Hazardous Waste Coordinators (“ANJHHWC”) is a professional organization of public and private sector individuals involved in household hazardous waste (“HHW”) management and related programs in the State of New Jersey. The individuals of the group work together to educate each other and to improve everyone’s individual programs. Visit www.njhazwaste.com.