Battery awareness key to safer disposal

5 October 2021

Along with the life saving message to change the batteries in your smoke alarm this long weekend, Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley is urging households to take an extra safety step and recycle the batteries.

While smoke alarms save lives alerting households to smoke and fire danger, disused batteries are a potential catastrophic fire hazard of their own.

Minister Ley said knowing how to safely dispose of batteries can help avoid dangerous battery fires in landfill, where they can burn endlessly, and life-threatening fires in garbage trucks.

“Australians are throwing away around 17,000 tonnes of batteries every year – most end up in landfill where they corrode over time - leaking harmful chemicals into the soil and potentially causing fires that can burn underground for years,” Minister Ley said.

“What is even scarier, are batteries that spark fires in garbage truck compactors as drivers do their daily suburban route.

“We want people to change the batteries in smoke alarms and clocks this year, it’s a great reminder for everyone, but with thousands of batteries going out the door this weekend lets also look at where they need to go.

“I am pleased to say there is good news on the horizon for recycling batteries, with hundreds of disposal pods around the country popping up in Woolworths, Battery World, Officeworks and Aldi stores, making household battery recycling easier and safer than ever.

“When you drop off your old batteries in one of these pods, you will be helping to protect the environment from harmful chemicals and creating jobs in recycling and remanufacturing.

“This daylight savings my simple message is Change your clock, change your battery, dispose your batteries safely.”

A spokesperson for Cleanaway said: “Batteries from smartphones, laptops and other electronics are a growing cause of truck, facility and landfill fires. These can ignite from friction and heat, starting a fire that spreads to other flammable material nearby such as cardboard. Keep batteries and other household hazardous waste out of all your kerbside bins.”

To find your nearest battery deposit pod, visit www.recyclingnearyou.com.au 

Fast facts on batteries:

  • In 2019/20, waste management company Cleanaway had 23 incidents of batteries exploding in trucks. In 2020/21, that number jumped to 45 incidents.
  • Tiny button batteries also pose a significant risk to young children leading to serious injuries and death. In Australia, roughly 20 children present to an emergency department every month having swallowed a button battery
  • In the past three months, Australians have deposited 15 tonnes of batteries at participating Woolworths stores alone.