Addressing battery waste contamination and recycling solutions 

James Nash

October 18, 2022

Valpak has created one of the largest battery collection and recycling networks in the UK, which currently consists of over 50,000 sites – most of which have containers provided by us.

Over the 12 years of managing this service, we have seen things arise that hinder the battery collection and recycling network - and the most common issue is contamination. This is also, arguably, one of the easiest things to fix.

We have seen all manner of things being deposited in our recycling containers, some of which are easily dealt with, but some can produce a very real danger. Of the less dangerous items we have seen toys, wrappers and even an umbrella placed into our bins. These, while unwelcome additions, are easily removed and not a danger. In comparison, we have also seen things that are a very real risk to all involved in the process.

Examples of note:

Batteries and water contamination

This contamination usually occurs if one of our containers is left outside uncovered. While water is of course harmless on its own, in the wrong conditions it can react with certain battery chemistries to cause a fire, which can be catastrophic. Even without fire water can break batteries down to form a toxic sludge at the bottom of the bin, which is also a health risk.

Disposing of vapes and e-Cigarettes with a built-in battery 

If you have been following any waste publication over the past couple of years, you’ll see that the rise in use of these ever more fashionable items is proportional to the increase in fires – mainly associated with the batteries they contain. These have decimated both vehicles and sites, many of which were not expecting this sort of waste. The expense in dealing with these fires has been enormous. It needs to be made clear that this type of item, although containing a battery, is not a battery. Only removeable batteries from these devices are suitable for bespoke battery services, and even then, they are potentially so volatile that special measures are often required for handling at extra cost. So, disposable vapes with a built-in battery are a big no!


This should speak for itself, but syringes in battery bins are a huge risk to health and safety. In a lot of circumstances batteries are sorted manually into their differing chemistries, and these small items are often hard to spot before its too late. They can of course carry diseases and infections, so vigilance is required to keep all people in the network safe.

As mentioned above there is an easy solution to all this, which is being mindful of not only what you place or allow into battery bins, but all bins in general. We hope this raises awareness of what the implications can be when the wrong thing is in the wrong bin, and the above are only some examples.

Request a box for your organisation

If your business or organisation would like to start collecting waste portable batteries for recycling, we would be happy to provide you with one of our FREE battery collection boxes.

Simply fill in our online form to request a box and join our network.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this blog represent those of the author, James Nash, and are not those of recycle-more, Valpak Limited or any other organisation.