Why are we having fires at battery recycling centres?

The huge blaze that erupted at a recycling plant near Glasgow represents the second of its kind in Scotland since April.

An expert has called for better regulations for recycling batteries amid an apparent surge in fires at electrical waste centres.

Professor Sudipta Roy spoke to STV News the day after a huge blaze engulfed a battery recycling plant near Glasgow.

Firefighters remain at the scene of WEEE Solutions at Linwood Industrial Estate after it erupted on Sunday night.

People were initially told not to leave their homes as residents reported a chemical smell and loud explosions.

That comes months after another blaze in April when firefighters spent days putting out the flames at the Fenix Battery Recycling in Kilwinning.

Drone footage shows huge smoke plume billowing across sky

Roy, a professor in the Chemical and Process Engineering department at the University of Strathclyde, said the rise in fires at these centres is happening as batteries become more powerful.

Better batteries, and storage, are needed amid the continued rise in portable electronics, electric vehicles and renewable energy.

Despite batteries being so prevalent though, Professor Roy said they are not always being properly recycled.

She told STV News: “We don’t actually have a standard for battery storage at the end of their life.

“A lot of people return them or put them in their garbage.

“We are having these fires and they have been increasing over the past few years in part because these batteries are becoming more powerful.”

Emergency services were called to Fenix Battery Recycling on Byrehill Place in Kilwinning just after 10pm on Monday.Alex Turner

Professor Roy said fires at recycling centres may risk causing harmful chemicals to be released into the surrounding environment.

“We are reaching a point where we need to be worried about how we are controlling these batteries,” she said.

“And sometimes the lithium can get exposed to air and when it’s exposed to air it will definitely combust.

“When it combusts there’s all this other material that’s in the same E-waste.

“Once a fire forms it’s going to drag and take all the other electronic items up in the gas because the gases are so hot and there’s so much heat circulation.”

Professor Roy said better regulations and standards are needed to ensure batteries are safely recycled, especially amid the rise in electric cars that will soon dominate the market.

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