June 21, 2023

To Help Prevent Trash Fires, Take Extra Care Before Throwing Materials into Trash

To Help Prevent Trash Fires, Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection Asks Residents to Take Extra Care Before Throwing Materials into Trash

As residents take on spring and summer cleaning, the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is urging residents to be responsible when disposing of batteries to prevent fire hazards. Improper battery disposal has led to several recent incidents of fires.

Even seemingly harmless household batteries, such as AA, AAA or button cell batteries, can contribute to these risks if not disposed of correctly. Improperly disposed materials can cause fires in trash cans, on trash trucks and at the County Transfer Station and Recycling Center in Derwood.

“Batteries are an important part of our daily lives, powering a wide range of devices and gadgets we rely on every day,” said Acting DEP Director Willie Wainer. “However, when not disposed of properly, batteries can pose serious threats to our environment and safety. Throwing batteries into regular trash bins is a hazardous practice that can lead to devastating fires.”

Do not place the following materials in the trash:
  • Batteries (dry cell and alkaline batteries, lithium batteries, lithium-ion batteries, nickel-cadmium batteries, lead acid vehicle batteries, tool batteries).
  • Flammable or combustible liquids (such as gasoline, oil-based paints or kerosene).
  • Hazardous materials (including items such as ammonia, bleach, pool chemicals, pesticides, paint thinners).
  • Canisters containing propellants (including butane or propane).
  • Cylinders containing compressed gas (such as propane, helium, oxygen, acetylene or fire extinguishers).
  • Ashes (from fireplaces, fire pits or barbecue grills).
  • Charcoal and used charcoal bags (containing flammable agents).
  • Unknown substances (will be managed as household hazardous waste).
These items can be properly dispose of at the Shady Grove Processing Facility and Transfer Station. Many retail locations also accept batteries for disposal.

It’s important to transport batteries safely. The safest methods of transporting batteries are to protect terminals by placing each battery individually into a plastic bag or taping the ends with masking or another non-metallic tape.

Additional information on the proper handling of batteries and other items is available on the County’s “I want to recycle or dispose of …” page.