A company that handles returned Amazon electronics has agreed to pay a $25,000 fine after at least three garbage truck fires were caused by discarded lithium-ion batteries, according to E-Scrap News. .
San Jose, Calif.-based iDiskk, LLC agreed in late November to settle a civil lawsuit regarding improper waste disposal with the Santa Clara County District Attorney. According to the District Attorney’s Office, the company “disassembles, recycles, and disposes of consumer computer electronics returned through Amazon, some of which contain lithium-ion batteries.”
On three different dates in 2021 (September 22nd, October 6th, and October 13th), trucks collected residential waste from iDiskk’s office address in Campbell, California. If you look at the address on Google Street View, you’ll see a house with a driveway and garage on a tree-lined street. Dozens of lithium-ion batteries were among the typical recycled materials and could be crushed and compacted along with other waste. “In both cases, the garbage truck driver discharged the truck’s load,” the first complaint said, and the battery was found to be the culprit.
No one was injured in the fire, but during the Oct. 13 fire, a lifted bin caught an overhead power line when it was dumped on the road to avoid a vehicle fire. The attached telephone pole broke and fell to the ground. “These fires are very dangerous to the safety of garbage truck drivers and first responders who must act quickly to deal with the fires,” the deputy district attorney said in a post-settlement press release. said Christopher Judge of
The case involves the owner of an e-waste business whose batteries (by law) should not be thrown into standard recycling, yet batteries continue to be a leading cause of fires in the waste stream.California A 2018 survey of recycling facilities by the State Product Safety Council found that 83% of 26 facilities had a fire two years ago, 65% of which were caused by batteries. A study by an Austrian professor at his MDPI found that with the increasing number of fires and very high potential for damage, like discarded portable batteries, “endangered the whole waste industry.” It turns out that there is no other substance or material that has
Of course, some batteries end up in the trash or recycled because they can’t be taken anywhere. In many parts of the country, Best Buy or Walmart for used electronics are the best options for residents. Otherwise, your best options include seeking out suitable facilities, hoarding them until local politicians host a hazardous waste event, or simply hiding them indefinitely. (At least the establishment slowly loses its charges).
Scientists have proposed solutions to make lithium-ion batteries less flammable. In 2017, a Stanford University researcher proposed using an embedded flame retardant as an anode/cathode separator. Powdered silica in electrolyte mixtures was proposed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2018. Clearly, neither improvement has gone mainstream.