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Lithium Ion Battery Fires Spark Concerns

June 18, 2019

According to an online news report at, lithium ion batteries located in cellphones and other electronic devices have caught on fire and resulted in significant smoke at waste processing plants in Japan one hundred twenty eight times last year.  This startling statistic is four times the level that occurred five years prior.*

The problem of lithium battery explosions and fires have resulted in buildings burning down as well as significant damage.  In most of these situations, the batteries were thrown away on mistake by businesses or households along with their standard garbage.  According to the Japanese Environmental Ministry, they have requested that municipalities across the country ensure that their garbage is appropriately separated.  

Lithium ion batteries are much lighter than regular rechargeable batteries and last two to three times as long after being charged.  Per the Tokyo-based Battery Association of Japan, 1.29 billion lithium ion batteries were manufactured in Japan in 2018, which is up from seven 760 million back in 2003.  Currently, lithium ion batteries represent thirty percent of all batteries produced.

Lithium ion batteries are included in such devices as cellphones, computers, e-cigarettes and cars.  These have caught fire or emitted smoke at least one hundred twenty eight times at plastic waste recycling facilities back in 2018.  This statistic comes from the Tokyo-based Japan Contains and Packaging Recycling Association.  This represents four times the 32 incidents that happened back in 2013.

Shockingly, in April and May of 2019, there were  incidents of fire and smoke caused by lithium ion batteries. In some instances, entire facilities have become engulfed in flames, which has resulted in businesses having to stop certain operations.  In addition to recycling facilities, fires have occurred at all types of 60 facilities that process waste, including those that separate garbage into different types.

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Category: Accident News

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