Kristine Major

Know Before You Throw!

Kristine Major, Solid Waste Educator, 509.625.6521

Thursday, August 1, 2019 at 4:52 p.m.

They’re in our smartphones, laptops and wrist watches. They also power our weed eaters and power drills. Lithium batteries are in many everyday items because they provide more energy than other types of batteries, last longer and are rechargeable. Many of us enjoy the benefits of these powerful batteries, but we are mostly unaware that these batteries can cause fires if they are thrown away in trash or recycling carts.

In the past two months, Spokane’s Waste to Energy Facility has had two fires on its tipping floor caused by lithium batteries. Fires in solid waste collection trucks also can be caused by these batteries.

Here are some options to safely dispose of batteries and protect your home and our community from lithium battery fires. You can take all of your batteries to the Household Hazardous Waste drop off area at the Waste to Energy Facility or Spokane County’s transfer stations at 22123 N. Elk-Chattaroy Road and 3941 N. Sullivan Road.

There is no cost for Spokane City or County residents. Our collection drivers also take batteries that are left in clear plastic bags on top of your blue recycling carts. (Don’t put them inside the cart!) Even stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s will take rechargeable batteries at drop boxes inside their stores.

So what items contain lithium batteries and require special disposal?

Laptops, e-cigarettes and vape pens, smartphones, watches, and rechargeable power tool batteries are just a few items to look out for. As you buy rechargeable items, check for disposal information which may just appear as a trash can with an “X” through it. This means the item probably has a lithium battery and must be managed separately.

The only way to prevent these fires is to manage your batteries properly. Know before you throw!

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