Batteries can be hazardous when recycled, disposed of in trash

Residents are urged to take note of what items can and cannot be recycled or disposed of in the trash.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY
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Residents are urged to take note of what items can and cannot be recycled or disposed of in the trash.PHOTO COURTESY OF BURLINGTON COUNTY

Residents are urged to be careful about what items they toss into their curbside recycling bins.

Items that may contain small lithium-ion batteries are considered hazardous because the batteries, when damaged, can short circuit and create a spark and ignite a fire, according to information provided by the Burlington County Board of Commissioners.

Several small fires in county recycling trucks and at the county’s Westampton recycling plant have been traced to items containing these small batteries, which are now frequently found in cell phones, power tools, computers, Vape pens, toys and even musical greeting cards, according to the statement.

Earlier this year, a massive 11-alarm fire destroyed the Atlantic Coast Fibers recycling center in Passaic County. The cause of the blaze was never determined, but lithium batteries were considered a possible source, according to the statement.

Burlington County Commissioner Tom Pullion, the board’s liaison to the Department of Solid Waste and Recycling, said residents can help guard against a similar disaster occurring in Burlington County by taking care to ensure hazardous items like batteries do not wind up in recycling bins.

“Recycling clearly helps our environment and saves our towns’ money from landfill disposal fees, but we all must be vigilant about recycling the right things,” Pullion said in the statement. “Tossing something you shouldn’t in a recycling container might seem like a small thing, but it can potentially pose a significant danger.”

Non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, which frequently come in AAA, AA, C, D, and 9-volt sizes, can be disposed of with household trash.

Rechargeable batteries, such as nickel cadmium and lithium-ion, should not be recycled or disposed in trash, even if they have the recyclable symbol printed on them. Instead, residents should take them to locations such as Lowes, Home Depot, Staples and other locations that accept batteries under a special Call2Recycle program funded by battery manufacturers.

For a complete list of local businesses that accept batteries, visit call2recycle.org.

Burlington County residents can also bring electronic items, such as cell phones, computer tablets, DVD players, power tools, keyboards and printers to the county Resource Recovery Complex located at 22000 Burlington-Columbus Road in Florence to be recycled. The complex is open Tuesday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays from 7 a.m. to noon.

“The electronics-recycling service at the complex is available and free for our county residents, just like our recycling collection is free for all 40 of our towns,” Pullion said. “Last year, more than 40,000 tons were recycled, saving towns and their taxpayers more than $3.4 million in landfill disposal fees. We’re proud of this service and want to encourage residents to take advantage of this resource, but we also need them to make sure they are recycling the right items and keep hazards like lithium batteries out of the recycling stream that can create unwanted dangers.”