Public Urged to Dispose of Exploding Zombie Batteries Responsibly

  • Central Bedfordshire Council joins national fight against “zombie batteries” in bid to tackle waste collection fires caused by discarded dead batteries.

The council and their waste and recycling partner, FCC Environment, are supporting the new national Take Charge campaign. They are urging residents to never throw batteries away in their general rubbish, but to recycle batteries using the council’s battery collection services. 

Residents looking to dispose of dead batteries can place them in a bag next to their general waste bin on collection day or they can take them to collection points or their local household waste recycling centre.

Dead batteries thrown away with other waste and recycling, which the campaign refers to as “zombie batteries”, are likely to be crushed or punctured once the waste is collected and processed. Some battery types in particular, lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel-metal Hydride (NiMH), can ignite or even explode when they’re damaged. Once this happens, the batteries can quickly set fire to other materials present in the waste, like paper, leading to serious incidents that put lives at risk.

The Environmental Services Association, the recycling and waste management trade body who launched the campaign, conduct an annual survey of its members to record the number of fires occurring at recycling and waste facilities that are known or thought to have been started by lithium-ion batteries. Recent data collected shows between April 2019 and March 2020, lithium-ion batteries alone were thought to be responsible for more than 250 fires at their members’ facilities during the year – well over a third (38%) of all fires.

Councillor Ian Dalgarno, Executive Member for Community Services at Central Bedfordshire Council said: “Unfortunately the majority of batteries discarded in the UK at the moment are not disposed of properly. Fires caused by carelessly discarded batteries endanger lives; cause millions of pounds of damage and disrupt waste services.”

“Central Bedfordshire residents have a number of options to safely dispose of their batteries, including by placing them in a bag next to their bin on their normal collection day, that way they can be collected separately. The batteries are then recycled which is even better for the environment.”

Commenting for FCC Environment, Julie Fourcade, Head of External Affairs, said: “We are pleased to support our local authority partners with the Take Charge campaign to help prevent waste and recycling fires caused by batteries that have not been disposed of properly. Everyone has a part to play in ensuring both public safety and that of our staff working hard to serve their communities, and it’s really simple to dispose of batteries safely with the collection service.”

Consumers can find out more about the dangers of zombie batteries, by visiting the campaign website at