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Seattle Bans Batteries, Electronics from Garbage

March 11, 2024

Seattleites can no longer toss batteries and electronics into their garbage. The City of Seattle banned such items from garbage and recycling bins as of January 1.

In implementing the rule, city officials cited hazardous substances as a factor, noting they can pose risks to humans (including waste collection staff) and the environment if disposed in landfills.

To dispose of batteries, residents have several options:

Ridwell, which offers twice monthly, front door pick-ups of various recyclable items in neighborhoods around Greater Seattle (and other markets) reports it collected 444,679 pounds of batteries in 2023.

Seattle’s new ban applies to commercial and residential garbage customers, and covers a wide range of batteries and electronics, including products with embedded batteries like small gadgets, toys, computers, monitors, and e-bikes.

Batteries are the leading cause of fires at the city’s transfer stations, and they can leak acid and metals into the waste stream, according to the city’s announcement of the ban.  Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins said the Seattle Fire Department has responded to 79 fires in the last two years. “These fires have involved lithium-ion batteries, often involving e-scooters, e-bikes and portable electronics,” he stated.

Batteries contain elements like mercury, lead, cadmium and lithium, all of which can leak from them, including corrosive battery acid, the city noted in its announcement, adding while toxic to humans and bad for the environment, “the metals are also very valuable and can be recycled into new electronic products.”

“Seattle has long been a leader when it comes to curbside recycling and composting, and this rule goes further to protect people and the planet,” stated Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.

If banned items are spotted in a customer’s garbage, they will receive a tag on the container asking them to remove them.

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