Reporting by the Verge has found that lithium-ion batteries are catching on fire in recycling plants. A bad plant fire in Texas burned a facility for 12 hours and experts believe that a lithium-ion battery started the fire.

Lithium-ion batteries are a common component of laptops and smartphones. End of life batteries often end up in recycling centers, and they pose a risk to employees and the centers. Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can catch fire when they are damaged, overheated or short-circuited. And batteries tossed carelessly into recycling centers are susceptible to those conditions. The size of the batteries makes them difficult to detect.

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Fires are fairly common in waste facilities and many are underreported. The number of fires has increased since 2016. Bill Keegan, president of Dem-Con Companies in Minnesota, told the Verge, “Nationally we’re losing about a facility a month, burned to the ground by battery fires.”

To help prevent recycling plant fires, be sure to recycle your laptops, smartphones and electronics at designated e-waste centers.

Read more about recycling and e-waste in One Green Planet, check out these articles:

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