New Brunswick

Fredericton landfill warns of fire danger from old batteries

Fredericton Region Solid Waste is joining a North American-wide effort to convince people not to throw batteries out in their household waste or recycling.

Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission pushes recycling program for batteries after 3 fires in 8 years,

The Fredericton landfill recycling facility was destroyed by fire on Dec. 31. The Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission is encouraging people to property dispose of batteries and not put them in their household waste or recyclables. (Megan Goddard/CBC)

The Fredericton Region Solid Waste Commission is joining a North American-wide effort to convince people not to throw batteries out in their household waste or recycling.

The organization lost its recycling centre to a raging fire late last year.

Brad Janes, a spokesman for the commission, isn't linking battery disposal to that fire, but he says "batteries have been a thorn in the side of landfills for years so we're simply trying to minimize the risk."

The Dec. 31, 2014, fire raged for 12 hours at the commission's facility.

While the fire could have started from a battery, Janes said there are other potential sources as well, such as ashes or chemicals.

The landfill was also hit by major fires in 2007 and 2013.

Brad Janes, a spokesman for the solid waste commission, says people can dispose of old batteries at retailers participating in the Call2Recycle program. (CBC)
Janes said the concern is people dispose of lithium or nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) batteries with their garbage or recyclables.

"They may be dead in terms of powering your drill, but there still could be some life in them," said Janes. 

"When crushed, when we bale our products, there is a chance, when science takes over, of igniting a fire."

"We've had three major fires in the last eight years. Are [batteries] they culprits? We're not 100 per cent sure but if we can minimize that risk, even taking one potential fire hazard out of our landfill or out of the recycling stream, it's going to help."

To try and get batteries out of the waste and recycling streams, the organization has teamed up with the North American organization Call2Recycle. Through Call2Recycle, people are encouraged to drop off used batteries and cellphones at participating retailers.

The solid waste commission has recruited new retailers to participate in the program and there are now about two dozen of them participating in the greater Fredericton area. 

​Batteries can also be disposed of at the landfill when it holds free household hazardous waste days every second Wednesday and Saturday. On these days, people can also dispose of items, such as paint and pool chemicals.

Janes said he is also encouraging people not to let used batteries accumulate in a storage container in their home or office.

"That's what we're trying to get away from," he said.

"Just bring them to us or find that Call2Recycle depot. Don't stockpile them."

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