Hennepin Co. stops most battery recycling amid fears over e-cig fires

The decision is effective as of Wednesday.

Starting from Wednesday, you won't be able to recycle used batteries at multiple  locations across Hennepin County, amid concerns over fires started by batteries from e-cigarettes and vape pens.

The county announced it would "immediately" stop battery collections at its community locations, including city and county buildings, libraries, schools, and community centers.

The only places that will accept batteries are at county drop-off facilities in Bloomington and Brooklyn Park.

The decision came because of the rise in use of vape pens and e-cigs, batteries from which have been ending up in county recycling bins.

"The combination of vape pens/e-cig devices that heat up when activated and rechargeable batteries that are flammable is dangerous," the county said.

"The specific problem with vape pens is that many have a push button activator, which turns on the heat with very little pressure. In addition, it is difficult to remove the battery from the casing and requires tools, so residents dispose of these items with the batteries intact."

The county is reminding residents that alkaline batteries, such as your typical AA and AAA batteries, don't contain hazardous materials and can be placed in your regular trash.

Lithium ion, button batteries and other rechargeable batteries however should be taken to the drop-off centers in Bloomington or Brooklyn Park, as they contain toxic metals.

Some cities in Hennepin County, however, will recycle batteries for you, with the City of Minneapolis asking they be placed in a clear plastic bag on top of your recycling bin on collection day, though you have to tape over the positive terminal on lithium and lithium-ion batteries.

The county says any bulging or damaged lithium ion batteries should be brought to a drop-off center as soon as possible, as they are unsafe.

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