Ahead of the holiday period, experts are urging Australians to take this simple step in the home to keep their families safe
New research released today by B-cycle, Australia’s government-back battery recycling scheme, shows millions of Australians are not aware of the simple safety measure of taping used batteries. Used batteries must be covered with clear sticky tape and never be put in general waste and recycling bins for fire prevention, and child safety.
Currently there are an estimated 5.7 million used batteries in homes across Australia, and with thousands of battery-powered products expected to be purchased in the coming weeks during Black Friday, and the Christmas giving period, there are concerns this number will grow. Experts are warning these batteries are a danger to young children, vulnerable groups, and waste collection providers.
The new data reveals a worrying trend of how people across the country are disposing of used batteries with:
- More than half (55%) of Australians surveyed are still disposing of batteries incorrectly in regular waste or recycling bins.
- 79% of Australians not aware of the important safety step of taping their used batteries.
- Just 12% say they immediately tape the exposed terminals when replacing a used household battery.
Experts are reminding Australians of the dangers of handheld batteries. Button batteries in particular are a huge safety issue. They power a wide range of devices in our homes and lives; from remote controls, car keys, children’s toys, bathroom scales, and many other devices that flash, glow or make noise. While button batteries appear harmless, they can have a devastating impact when ingested or inserted by small children, or thrown in general waste and recycling bins which causes fires and harms the environment.
- Child safety hazard: Button batteries can cause severe internal caustic burns and death. In Australia, an estimated 20 children per week present to a hospital emergency department suspected of having ingested or inserted a button battery, and of those, one child per month will sustain serious injuries.4
- Fire risk: Even when a battery appears to have lost its charge it can short-circuit when it comes into contact with other batteries or metal objects, causing dangerous fires.
- Environmental risk: Batteries going into landfill leach toxic materials into the environment. Those materials could be salvaged for reuse by recyclers.
B-cycle CEO Libby Chaplin said, “Since the launch of B-cycle we’ve seen a positive shift and more people are recycling their used batteries, but there still remains a substantial number who aren’t. Millions of batteries are sitting in our homes with the potential to cause serious harm if not disposed of correctly. We are asking Australians to protect their families and communities by simply taping used batteries with clear sticky tape and taking them to their local B-cycle drop off point.”
How taping and recycling help keep Aussies safe:
- Taping used batteries makes them harder to swallow or insert.
- If ingested, the tape limits the caustic burn and gives health staff more time to save the child’s life.
- Taping over the terminals of batteries helps prevent them from short-circuiting.
- Keeping batteries out of general waste and recycling bins helps prevent fires in the waste stream, and stops batteries going to landfill.
- Recycling gets used batteries out of our homes, and into safe hands so they can be made into something new.
Emergency paediatrician and Director of the Queensland Injury Surveillance Unit, Dr Ruth Barker said, “We are surrounded by batteries in our homes and often parents won’t know until it’s too late that their child has ingested or inserted a battery. These incidents are hard to recognise, challenging to treat and can be fatal if not correctly diagnosed quickly. Risk mitigation by taping batteries and keeping them out of reach of children is essential to keeping children safe.”
Chaplin added, “We are seeing an increase in battery related fires across the country and this will only continue to grow as batteries remain an integral part of our day-to-day lives. By recycling them we can ensure they are handled safely by accredited collectors and keep our communities safe.”
B-cycle has over 4,000 easily accessible Drop off points across the country in retail stores such as ALDI, Bunnings, Battery World, Coles, Officeworks and Woolworths.
To find your local B-cycle drop off point and for more battery safety information go to bcycle.com.au .
Battery safety checklist:
- Don’t toss them: never put used batteries in your regular waste and recycling bins
- Tape them: cover the battery terminals (the battery ends) with clear sticky tape
- Take them: to your local B-cycle Drop off point or council collection site
Image by Freepik.