EERA members share experiences and best practices with batteries in WEEE

   Wed, 9th Dec, 2020

It is a fact that high energy batteries – mostly lithium batteries – are posing serious fire risks to WEEE recyclers. The European Electronic Recyclers Association (EERA) is calling on all stakeholders to implement ADR rules for the safe collection and transport of WEEE including batteries. 80 % of WEEE recycling companies report serious fires and related incidents at their facilities. The risk of fires is a serious cause of concern for the security and safety of employees at treatment facilities. 

Recently EERA organised two workshops for members: “Sharing experiences and best practices with batteries in WEEE”

Manfred Fahrner, has summarised these experiences in a comprehensive report. 

EERA calls on all stakeholders, EU and national rule makers and authorities, to contribute to improving the safety of the collection and treatment of WEEE.
•    ADR rules (European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) clearly prohibit the transport of lithium-type batteries in bulk containers. The CENELEC Standard EN 50625 on the collection and logistics associated with WEEE prohibits crushing, compaction, and uncontrolled tipping of electrical and electronic waste. ADR and EN 50625 must be enforced.
•    Removable batteries must be removed prior to shipment. Devices with embedded batteries must be segregated and shipped in compliance with ADR.
•    Small electronic equipment which contains an increasing percentage of devices with embedded batteries must not be transported in bulk containers.
•    Standardised and easy to recognise labels for the identification of batteries in electronics are needed.
•    The required level of knowledge for staff collecting WEEE often exceeds the level of training and qualification generally available to waste collectors.
•    The increased costs of compliant handling and of safety measures must be borne by the stakeholders putting battery-operated devices on the market. Modulated fee systems are needed to cover the growing expense caused by batteries in electrical and electronic equipment.
•    The future design of devices shall take into account the inherent danger from batteries in the end-of-life stage of electronic equipment. Producers are called upon to design safer batteries, and to facilitate the easy detection and removal of batteries from WEEE. The potential of modern technology for automated detection should be explored. 

One of the main conclusions is that all the safety measures and further experience cannot eliminate the inherent risks associated with batteries. It is important that the dangers from waste batteries are addressed as early as possible in the collection and recycling chain.  
EERA hopes that this report will contribute to raise more awareness among politicians and stakeholders about the risks of fires caused by batteries in WEEE. EERA is looking forward to contributing to reducing the risks of fires, caused by batteries in WEEE.

Read the report in full: