Garbage Goat

“Hi! I’m GG the Garbage Goat, and I like to talk about trash. On my blog you’ll find interesting bits of information regarding how Spokane County handles its solid waste, how our recycling is handled, and other interesting things about waste. If you have questions about recycling or solid waste, you can contact the Spokane County Regional Recycling Information Line at 509-477-6800, or contact us online.”

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Aug 08

Help Us Prevent Lithium Battery Fires

Posted on August 8, 2019 at 1:06 PM by Austin Stewart

GG_Lithium Ion Battery_Scaled

See the City of Spokane's lithium ion battery video here: The only way to prevent lithium battery fires is to manage your batteries properly.

They’re in our smartphones, laptops and wrist watches. They also power our weed eaters and power drills. Lithium batteries are in many everyday items because they provide more energy than other types of batteries, last longer, and are rechargeable. Many of us enjoy the benefits of these powerful batteries, but we are mostly unaware that these batteries can cause fires if they are thrown away in trash or recycling carts.

In the past two months, Spokane’s Waste to Energy Facility has had two fires on its tipping floor caused by lithium batteries. Fires in solid waste collection trucks also can be caused by these batteries. 

Here are some options to safely dispose of batteries and protect your home and our community from lithium battery fires. You can take all of your batteries to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off area at the Waste to Energy Facility or Spokane County’s transfer stations at 22123 N. Elk-Chattaroy Road and 3941 N. Sullivan Road. 

There is no cost for Spokane City or County residents. If your hauler is the City of Spokane, collection drivers will take batteries that are left in clear plastic bags on top of your blue recycling carts. (Don’t put them inside the cart!) Other Spokane area haulers, Sunshine Disposal and Waste Management, don’t accept batteries in bags on local routes, so if you live outside of the City of Spokane, batteries will need to be taken to the Waste to Energy Facility 7 days a week, or the Colbert or Valley Transfer Stations on Saturdays or Sundays as Hazardous Waste. Also, stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s will take rechargeable batteries at drop boxes inside their stores. 

So what items contain lithium batteries and require special disposal?

Laptops, e-cigarettes and vape pens, smartphones, watches, and rechargeable power tool batteries are just a few items to look out for. As you buy rechargeable items, check for disposal information which may just appear as a trash can with an “X” through it. This means the item probably has a lithium battery and must be managed separately. 

The only way to prevent these fires is to manage your batteries properly. Know before you throw! 

(Reprinted with permission from Kris Major, Solid Waste Educator, City of Spokane)