Characterisation of fires caused by batteries in WEEE (Report)

More and more electrical and electronic products in everyday life contain batteries, making life more convenient or pleasant. However, those same batteries, when damaged, also increasingly cause these products to catch fires.

In the past few months, organisations representative of the industry that manages the collection and treatment of spent batteries and electronic waste (WEEE) and of manufacturers of home appliances and consumer electronics gathered to exchange views about this issue of growing concern in order to design measures to counter the frequent occurrence of fires. A survey among recyclers resulted in a better understanding of the issue of fires in the WEEE management chain. The report, “Characterisation of fires caused by batteries in WEEE”, has been prepared by EuRIC and the WEEE Forum with the active contribution of experts from various organisations including the co-signatories namely EERA, EUCOBAT, Municipal Waste Europe and the WEEELABEX Organisation. It seeks to jointly assess the severity of the issue.

The survey shows that the number of fires in the WEEE management chain is going up and that the fires mainly occur in mixed WEEE. Damaged batteries are seen as responsible for those fires.

“Battery fires are one of the most important issue impacting recyclers currently” says Emmanuel Katrakis, Secretary General at EuRIC, the European Recycling Industries’ Confederation. “This fact-based report confirms that fires occur at every stage of the collection and treatment of WEEE, but we see a higher prevalence during treatment and at the logistics and pre-treatment stages during storage”, the survey tells us that for most fires, there is a high prevalence of frequent yet small thermal events that cause no or little damage. The most severe fires identified by respondents were mostly described as intense fires and lasting between 1 to 6 hours. More than a third of the respondents reports one of those severe fires. The report roughly estimates the average costs associated to most frequent fires in 190 000 €, and 1.3 M€ for most severe fires.

The report includes a set of recommendations to further investigate some aspects that were addressed in the survey, but for which an in-depth analysis is key to have a better grasp of the issue. This includes for instance consequences for the reuse sector, the efficiency of the rules concerning the international carriage of dangerous goods by road (ADR), or the detailed cost breakdown of damages caused by battery fires.

“This report provides a set of facts and figures”, says Pascal Leroy, Director General at the WEEE Forum, the international voice of e-waste producer responsibility organisations. “It was extremely important to carry out that work collectively in a Roundtable, gathering the most relevant representative organisations in order to develop a shared understanding of the issues of concern. A follow-up report will analyse best practices to tackle fires associated with batteries”, he added.

 

For any inquiries on the subject please contact euric@euric-aisbl.eu and info@weee-forum.org.

Source: EuRIC (Photo: Benny Van den Steen)

Umweltcluster Bayern

“Umweltcluster Bayern” is organized as a supporting association “Umwelttechnologie-Cluster Bayern e.V.” with over 200 members. In close cooperation with politics, research, science and economy, “Umweltcluster Bayern” focuses on transfer, education, and strengthening of partnerships. Its main task comprises the networking of companies and research institutions. Therefore, “Umweltcluster Bayern” aims at strengthening and expanding the Bavarian industry as well as the mid tier.

Environmentally sound projects and working groups lay the foundation for active exchange and improve the members’ competitiveness, innovative capability, and internationalization. Waste avoidance, substitution due to bio-based alternatives and circular economy are necessary for climate protection. That is why various projects and networks of the “Umweltcluster Bayern” currently focus on this.

“Umweltcluster Bayern” has turned into the industry network of the Bavarian environmental industry since 2006. The cluster combines its members’ competencies and develops environmental technology solutions from these. The members come from different sectors with different core topics: waste and recycling, water and wastewater, air pollution control, alternative energy generation, resource efficiency, and material flow management, soil, and contaminated site remediation. All areas of focus represent the interdisciplinary environmental technology industry in Bavaria, both nationally and internationally.

“Umweltcluster Bayern” stimulates its network’s continuous growth to expand competencies and strengthen its role as a contact for politics, business, and local authorities regarding all future issues.

www.umweltcluster.net

VBS – Verband der Bayerischen Entsorgungsunternehmen e.V.

VBS – „Verband der Bayerischen Entsorgungsunternehmen” has been representing the medium-sized private waste disposal industry in Bavaria since its foundation in 1973. The association represents numerous member companies from all regions of Bavaria. VBS stands for environmentally friendly and public waste management and the sustainable conservation of valuable resources.

The experts from the board and different departments are regularly discussing current industry topics and try to promote innovative solutions.

The association cooperates closely with other organizations and federations and is an active member of BDE – “Bundesverband der Deutschen Entsorgungs-, Wasser- und Rohstoffwirtschaft e. V.” and of vbw – “Vereinigung der Bayerischen Wirtschaft”.

VBS is committed to

  • legal norms and lending criteria that guarantee a high level of technical, environmental and economic level
  • fair competition between all players in the industry and free competition within the EU borders
  • the uniform taxation of private and municipal companies
  • the integration of the waste disposal and raw materials industry into a market economy environment – as an independent economic sector

Furthermore, apart from functioning as a mouthpiece and stakeholder for their members, VBS is a service provider and offers in cooperation with BDE an enormous range of services.

www.vbs-ev.bayern

EuRIC – The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation

EuRIC – The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation is the umbrella organisation for recycling industries. Through its Member Federations from 21 EU & EFTA countries, EuRIC represents across Europe over:

  • 5,500+ companies generating an aggregated annual turnover of about 95 billion €, including large companies and SMEs, involved in the recycling and trade of various resource streams
  • 300,000 local jobs which cannot be outsourced to third EU countries
  • Million tons of waste recycled per year (metals, paper, glass, plastics, textiles, tyres and beyond)

By turning wastes into resources, recycling is the link which reintroduces recycled materials into the value chains again and again. Recyclers play a key role in bridging resource efficiency, climate change policy and industrial transition.

https://euric-aisbl.eu/