Huge fire at Berkshire recycling centre triggers warning over proper battery disposal

Watch: Sped-up video shows fire quickly spreading in recycling warehouse

A huge fire at a recycling centre started by a battery, causing thousands of pounds worth of damage, has prompted warnings about disposing of them properly.

Flames and smoke filled the Re3 Recycling Centre in Smallmead in Reading on 9 October, with mounds of waste catching alight.

Firefighters said five tonnes of cardboard was engulfed by flames when they arrived on the scene.

The fire caused around £20,000 worth of damage.

It is the ninth fire at the centre so far this year, prompting warnings for people not to throw electrical items and vapes into bins.

The Environmental Services Association says that too many batteries are being carelessly discarded in bins where they are easily damaged and can start to burn.

  • Laura Fisher, FFC Environment

Laura Fisher from waste management company FFC Environment said: "Disposable batteries we encourage you to bring them to your local recycling centre like we have here at Re3.

"Loads of supermarkets also take batteries so taking them there, DIY shops. Dispose of them anywhere that is designated for batteries rather than putting them into your general bin or your recycling bin."

How do I dispose of batteries? (Source:

Household batteries - Common household batteries include lithium-ion ‘button’ batteries from watches, hearing aids, etc, as well as standard barrel-type batteries (AAs, AAAs and so on). These household batteries must be recycled at specific battery collection points.

Battery packs - Battery packs from laptops, mobile phones, power tools and remote control units can be recycled at specific battery collection points. If you can’t remove the power pack, put the whole product in with your electrical recycling – but never in the general waste bin.

Car batteries - By law you mustn’t dispose of car batteries in a rubbish bin. In the UK you can recycle car batteries at designated collection points. These includes many household waste recycling centres, garages and scrap yards. Or, if a specialist is replacing your car battery, they might be able to dispose of the old one safely for you.

Vapes - Like anything with a battery (or cable or plug), vapes can be recycled. This is true of single-use vapes, rechargeable vapes and those that are rechargeable with a single use chamber. Never throw batteries in your general rubbish. If your vape has a built-in battery, put the whole device in with your electrical recycling.

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