Citizen-friendly collection of waste electrical equipment
Survey and hazard assessment of Li batteries
Devices with high-power lithium (Li) batteries include laptops, tablets and cordless tools. Additions to the collection system for batteries and rechargeable batteries were necessary to prevent possible fires due to the ignition of Li batteries. These can occur if device batteries are damaged. Basically: Batteries and rechargeable batteries containing lithium should not be exposed to high heat or water. They should not be damaged or opened. Under transport law lithium batteries are to be treated as dangerous goods, and their transport is subject to the ADR regulations.
Waste electrical equipment (WEE) containing lithium batteries can also cause hazards under certain circumstances. According to the current dangerous goods and transport law, the collected WEE cannot be transported as a loose bulk load. A loose bulk load also exists when the contents of recycling bank container systems with bottom discharge are transported.
As awareness of the possible hazards caused by Li batteries increases and driven by the extending of the collection system for Li batteries by GRS Batterien, the problem for the collection of waste electrical equipment became clearer. Throwing devices with Li batteries into the recycling bank containers has therefore now been prohibited. The extent to which prohibited devices are nonetheless thrown into the recycling bank containers is not known. In their current form, the recycling bank container systems are only conditionally acceptable for the collection of all small electrical devices. Adjustments to the collection or the containers may possibly be required.
The core problem is the emptying (tipping) of the recycling bank containers, during which the batteries can be damaged, and the already mentioned transport of the collected WEE. Although no fire events during transport of waste electrical equipment from recycling bank container systems have been recorded to date in Germany.
In the study recycling bank container collections are examined with regard to their composition of waste electrical equipment, the quantity of Li batteries they contain and the state of charge of the batteries. The emptying of the recycling bank containers and transport of the waste electrical equipment is accompanied and if applicable, improvement measures are deduced from the findings.
The work is being carried out together with the Resources Strategy Chair of Augsburg University.
The objective of the study is to determine the hazard caused by Li batteries in the collection of waste electrical equipment in recycling bank container systems, in order to
- obtain a reliable database of the occurrence and degree of damage of Li batteries in collected WEE from recycling bank container systems and
- minimise the proportion of Li batteries in the system and to avoid damage to the remaining Li batteries (if applicable by adjusting the recycling bank container systems or the emptying processes).
Initial findings from the current project will be presented at the IFAT within the scope of a round of discussions on ADR-conformant collection of small electrical devices.