Fire Risk: Lithium Battery Advisory
Lithium and lithium-ion batteries are in almost every electronic device you own. Rechargeable game controller, smartphone, electric bike and vehicle, tablets, laptops, and smartwatches all have them. When damaged, mishandled, or disposed of improperly, these batteries pose a fire risk. Even a single use lithium button battery could result in a severe fire if slightly damaged and exposed to air or other metals. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there were more than 25,000 issues involving fires from lithium-ion batteries in a five-year period.
Lithium batteries were responsible for two fires in the Jackson area in 2018, and were most likely the culprit in the 2020 trash truck fire at the Teton County Trash Transfer Station, and the West Thumb Geyser Basin closure in 2022. Lithium batteries have raised concern for Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling (ISWR) after they have started fires at recycling plants at other locations across the nation, some resulting in a complete facility loss. ISWR understands the dangers and has adjusted how we accept lithium and lithium-ion batteries from the public as well as battery storage at the facility, keeping them away from combustible and flammable material. Teton County ISWR encourages the public to do the same in their individual household and work environments.
Safety Guidelines for Lithium and Lithium-Ion Batteries:
- Do NOT charge cellphones or laptops on couches, beds, or other flammable furniture.
- Do NOT leave phones or laptops in cars where they can overheat.
- Do NOT overcharge devices.
- Do NOT dispose of these batteries or devices in the trash or community recycling sites. Please deliver to the Teton County Recycling Center at 3270 S. Adams Canyon Dr. Electronics and lithium batteries are accepted Monday-Friday, 9 am - 5 pm. Alkaline batteries can be dropped off 24/7 in bins at the front entrance.
- Bloated or visually damaged batteries are particularly dangerous. Please notify a recycling staff member when delivering a damaged battery.
Lithium and lithium-Ion batteries are one of the leading causes of garbage and recycling truck fires around the nation. “Please remember the human element of recycling and trash in Teton County. Recycling Center staff work very closely with every piece of material that comes to the facility, and some can become very dangerous,” says Teton County ISWR’s superintendent, Brenda Ashworth.
As battery collection for recycling increases so do the hazards. In the last three years, Teton County Integrated Solid Waste and Recycling (ISWR) has seen a 51% increase in battery collection at the Recycling Center after a significant spike in 2018-2019 from large battery producing businesses.
In 2019, Teton County ISWR stopped accepting alkaline/single-use and rechargeable batteries from other government agencies or businesses. The battery recycling program is very expensive. In addition, ISWR does not have the staff to sort and bulk the more than 3 tons of single-use batteries that we receive annually from businesses. It is really easy for businesses to implement their own program. Please contact a battery recycler to order your own pails and rechargeable battery recycling boxes. There are many organizations that offer recycling kits. ISWR uses Battery Solutions for recycling the single-use batteries (i.e., alkaline batteries) and Call 2 Recycling for rechargeable batteries. For more information call 307-733-7678.