New vape recycling bins installed in the Scottish Borders to reduce risk of battery fires

Vapes contain lithium batteries which are prone to overheating and could be a fire risk.

Bins for vapes have been installed at every recycling centre in the Scottish Borders in a bid to reduce the number of fires being caused by crushed batteries.

The initiative comes after a rise in near-miss incidents where highly flammable vapes and e-cigarettes have combusted after being wrongly disposed of in general waste or regular recycling bins.

The devices, which contain lithium batteries, are prone to overheating if not recycled properly in a designated battery or vape bin.

Zero Waste Scotland estimates that up to 26 million disposable vapes were consumed and thrown away in Scotland in the last year, with 10 per cent being littered and more than half disposed of incorrectly.

Scottish Borders council have added vape/e-cigarette specific recycling bins to all its CRC sites to ensure as many as possible are disposed of responsibly.

Ross Sharp-Dent, the Waste Manager at Scottish Borders Council has said: "We are experiencing more and more fires caused by batteries in the waste industry.

"Last year there was about 700 fires which we think were caused by batteries across the UK.

"Unfortunately when they are crushed they do ignite, and obviously you've got a waste source very close by and that is where you get your problems."

Councillor Jenny Linehan, Executive Member for Environment and Transport, has said: “An estimated 1.3 million vapes or e-cigarettes are discarded across the UK every week and many are disposed of incorrectly.

“This increases the risk of fires in our waste collection vehicles or in our waste transfer stations as the batteries overheat rapidly and can spontaneously combust.

“We’ve recently had a number of dangerous incidents caused by fires started by vapes and when this happens it can cause a serious risk to life for the staff working in these areas and damage expensive equipment paid for by the taxpayer.

“With this in mind I’m appealing to any users of vapes and e-cigarettes to make the effort to dispose of these items correctly for the safety of our staff and to ensure we can properly recycle these mass-produced items. 

“All of our CRC’s can accept disposable and reusable vapes or e-cigarettes and even some of the larger supermarkets have specific bins where batteries and vapes can be disposed of responsibly.”

The Scottish Fire and Rescue have said: "We would strongly urge anyone who uses technology powered by lithium-ion batteries to take the appropriate steps when charging, storing, and handling these kinds of batteries.

"And to correctly dispose spent battery units to ensure reduced risk of fire."

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