New Guide Helps MRFs Manage Lithium Batteries Safely

New Guide Helps MRFs Manage Lithium Batteries Safely

NWRA, ISRI and SWANA Issue Joint Document to Prevent Fires and Injuries from Improperly Disposed Batteries

Arlington, VA – The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA), the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) and the Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) have developed a Guide for Developing Lithium Battery Management Practices at Materials Recovery Facilities. The guide was written to assist materials recovery facilities (MRFs) with properly managing and disposing of lithium-ion batteries (LIB) when spotted, responding correctly in case of a fire and managing a fire if one does break out.

Fires at waste and recycling facilities continue to rise due in part to the increased popularity of LIB in consumer products. When these batteries are disposed of improperly, they can unknowingly catch fire and sometimes explode, causing injuries to workers and equipment and potentially destroying an entire facility.

Consumers lack awareness of this threat and often do not know how to manage LIB correctly when ready to dispose of them. To help prevent these batteries from entering the municipal waste and recycling stream in the first place, the new guide also includes consumer awareness messaging.

“As the number of fires at MRFs increase due to the prevalence of lithium-ion batteries, we believe strongly that our members must have the resources necessary to operate safely. We thank our industry partners, ISRI and SWANA for collaborating with us on this document,” said Kirk Sander, NWRA’s chief of staff and vice president of safety and standards.

“Our goal is to lower the risk of fires in MRFs caused from lithium-ion batteries,” said Tony Smith, ISRI’s vice president of safety. “We believe that this joint-effort guidance will educate both the operators and consumers as well as raise awareness of the issue in the recycling stream.”

“This guide provides valuable information that will help MRFs protect workers, equipment and facilities from the risk of battery fires,” said Jesse Maxwell, SWANA’s advocacy and safety senior manager. “Lithium-ion battery fires are a serious issue that require concerted action to address.”

This guide is the result of collaboration by stakeholders representing MRF owners and operators, suppliers, waste and recycling associations, battery associations, battery recyclers and more that are dedicated to ensuring the safe handling of LIB to protect waste and recycling workers and facilities.

The National Waste & Recycling Association (NWRA) represents the private sector waste and recycling services industry. Association members conduct business in all 50 states and include companies that manage waste, recycling and medical waste, equipment manufacturers and distributors, and a variety of other service providers. For more information about NWRA, please visit

Brandon Wright
National Waste and Recycling Association

The Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries, Inc. (ISRI) is the “Voice of the Recycling Industry™.” ISRI represents 1,300 companies in 20 chapters in the U.S. and more than 40 countries that process, broker, and consume scrap commodities, including metals, paper, plastics, glass, rubber, electronics, and textiles. With headquarters in Washington, DC, the Institute provides education, advocacy, safety and compliance training, and promotes public awareness of the vital role recycling plays in the U.S. economy, global trade, the environment and sustainable development. Generating nearly $110 billion annually in U.S. economic activity, the scrap recycling industry provides more than 500,000 Americans with good jobs.

Rachel Bookman
Senior Communications Outreach Manager

The Solid Waste Association of North America (SWANA) is an organization of more than 10,000 public and private sector professionals committed to advancing from solid waste management to resource management through their shared emphasis on education and research. For more than 50 years, SWANA has been the leading association in the solid waste management field. SWANA serves industry professionals through technical conferences, certifications, publications and a large offering of technical training courses. For more information, visit and follow SWANA on Facebook , LinkedInTwitter, and Instagram.

Sarah Beidleman
Marketing Coordinator
1-800-GO-SWANA (467-9262)