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It’s All in the Details

January 12, 2021

Today's blog is authored by Arturo Santiago, the Managing Editor of MSW Management magazine. The original post is located here.

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc (ISRI), and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) joined forces with materials recovery facilities (MRFs) owners and operators, suppliers, battery associations, battery recyclers, and more to create a new guide that helps MRFs safely manage lithium-ion batteries (LIB). The guide is not a one-page poster or flyer or a colorful brochure. It is a detailed document that tells MRFs how to properly manage and dispose of LIB. It instructs how to respond correctly in case of a fire and then how to manage a fire if one does break out.

Kirk Sander, NWRA’s Chief of Staff and Vice President for Safety and Standards, says, “As the number of fires at MRFs increase due to the prevalence of lithium-ion batteries, we believe strongly that our members must have the resources necessary to operate safely. We thank our industry partners, ISRI and SWANA for collaborating with us on this document.”

The new guide outlines subject matter such as contractual language, inbound material control, damaged battery protocol, facility inspections and maintenance, fire suppression, and also consumer awareness messaging, just to name a few.

Jesse Maxwell, Advocacy and Safety Senior Manager for the SWANA says, “This guide provides valuable information that will help MRFs protect workers, equipment, and facilities from the risk of battery fires. Lithium-ion battery fires are a serious issue that require concerted action to address.”

The introduction in the new guide explains, “As the number of annual fire incidents at waste and recycling facilities continues to rise, one of the main reasons highlighted is the increase in the popularity of lithium-ion batteries (LIB) as they become cheaper commercially. Lithium batteries are found in everyday items such as phones, tablets and hearing aids, among other products. There is a lack of awareness and education between consumers and battery recycling. Labeling is not standardized and can be very confusing. Thus, they are appearing more frequently in the municipal waste stream and are often incorrectly placed in blue recycling bins as well. Lithium batteries may unknowingly catch fire and sometimes explode, causing injuries to workers and equipment and potentially destroying an entire facility.”

Tony Smith, ISRI vice president of safety, commented, “Our goal is to lower the risk of fires in MRFs caused by lithium-ion batteries. We believe that this joint effort guidance will educate both the operators & consumers as well as raise awareness of the issue in the recycling stream.”

Click here to take a few minutes to check out the guide. It is the result of an impressive collaboration.

Disclaimer: Guest blogs represent the opinion of the writers and may not reflect the policy or position of the Northeast Recycling Council, Inc.

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