The Retrofit Companies Blog

Lithium Batteries Are a Fire Hazard

lithium ion battery


Is your business in need of a recycling program for lithium batteries? These popular batteries pose dangerous risks and are quickly piling up into hazardous, potentially explosive scenarios in nearly every business you can imagine.


Do I have Lithium Batteries?

Lithium batteries have become common in everyday items, powering our computers, cell phones, pace makers, clocks and even our vehicles; it is more likely than not that you have lithium ion batteries in your facility. They have become the new normal, however many are unaware of the risks that they pose and how to properly dispose of them. With such a large volume of these batteries everywhere, it is vitally important that you and your business are aware of how to properly handle lithium batteries.


Lithium Ion Batteries (1)Lithium Batteries are Commonly Found In:
  • Digital Cameras
  • Clocks
  • Computers
  • Cell Phones
  • Pace Makers
  • Watches
  • Thermometers
  • Laser Pointers
  • MP3 players
  • Calculators
  • Computer backup systems


Why are Lithium Batteries Dangerous?

These batteries are more likely to catch fire than other rechargeable batteries due to their chemistry, containing a flammable electrolyte. These batteries are also pressurized and pack more energy into a small space, causing them to be more popular but also more dangerous.


If the batteries have a flaw, are damaged, overcharged, packed too closely together or are exposed to high temperatures they can overheat. This can be a very dangerous situation where uncontrolled positive feedback can cause other nearby batteries to overheat, triggering a domino effect of what is known as "thermal runaway." 


How do I Properly dispose of them?

To avoid dangerous situations with your lithium batteries, be sure to follow proper disposal guidelines. For full details and up to date information on lithium battery regulations please visit the eCFR - Electronic Code of Federal Regulations. 

 lithium ion batteries


TRC can assist with properly disposing of your lithium ion batteries. Please click below to contact one of our team members and they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation


Shedding some light on led lamp recycling requirements

 IMG_5852_ARROW EDIT.jpg

It is undisputed that LED lamps have become the leading lighting technology, offering the benefits of energy savings, longevity and quality of light. With the rise of their popularity, several of our customers have inquired as to the regulations regarding their proper disposal and recycling.

According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s publication W-HW4-62: “Although the bulb portion of most light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are not hazardous and thus not (Universal Waste) lamps, the circuit board to which the LEDs are attached is a regulated electronic waste in Minnesota.” See more from the MPCA on E-waste recycling here.

Some of the reasoning behind the MPCA’s decision to regulate these devices is found in the materials used to construct the lamps themselves. Circuit boards have long been known to contain toxic lead solder (along with several other toxic substances), and is regulated in the State of Minnesota.

To help illustrate the situation, we have taken apart several screw-in style LED bulbs to show the hidden circuit board. Red arrows annotate the photographs and highlight the silver colored solder.


 If you happen to be outside of the State of Minnesota, be sure to check with your local authorities as to the regulations in your area. Even if your State permits you to “throw them away”, the better choice is to recycle them. After all, why would you just landfill them, knowing that your decision will have a lasting impact on our environment, and the world that our children will inherit.

With over 25 years in the lighting and environmental business, we know about LED lighting and waste regulations!

If you have any questions or would like more information regarding the regulations of LED lamps and fixtures: 

Consult our haz waste team

If you have not yet made the change to LED lighting, we can help there too! There are many things to consider when making the move to LED; don't take on the project alone:  

Consult a Lighting Pro










Top 5 Retrofit Companies Blog Posts You Loved The Most

Believe it or not, 2013 has reached the halfway mark. In that time, we've published a number of blog posts about industry topics like LED Lighting, How to Set Up Community Recycling Collections, Energy Saving Tips and more. But today, we're sharing the Top 5 Most Popular Posts of 2013 (so far). If you haven't seen them, yet, take a quick look now!

#5 LED Lighting History & Facts: An Abbreviated Wiki

Chances are you aren’t living in the dark, so you’ve seen and read all about LED lighting technology, how quickly it is changing the face of lighting, and you have likely noticed how expensive this solid state lighting can be. We wanted to share a short blog entry about the history of Light Emitting Diodes and some of the more pertinent technology facts that were consolidated from Wiki sources. We aren’t physicists, but we still think lighting can be interesting." (read more)

#4 Warehouse Retrofit Case Study: Why more lights aren't always better

"In one of our client case studies of factory space, energy-efficient T5 high bay fixtures were added alongside inefficient metal halides to try and remedy poor light levels. An unknowing lighting contractor was just compounding the problem...(read more)"

#3 True Cost of Lighting, Energy Saving Tips & Why MOA is full of bugs!

A simple post with 8 links you loved in May 2013. Including topics like Earth Day, What Makes LED Lighting Awesome, Why goats were at O'Hare Airport and your favorite link: Why Mall of America is Full of Ladybugs!

#2 Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries

"Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Batteries contain toxic materials which can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, (read more)"

#1 When Are Your Fluorescent Lights Being Discontinued?

"While the discontinued products may no longer be manufactured, they can still be sold until existing supplies are gone. In the meantime, consumers are likely to pay a premium for the lamps themselves, but also more in utility costs because these technologies use more energy. If you are using these lamps, (read more)"


What topics or posts have been your favorite? Tell us in the comments.

MUST HAVE: Hazardous Waste Recycling Resource Guide

Hazardous Waste Recycling R

We've compiled this helpful Hazardous Waste Recycling Resource Guide as a way to keep some important reference information at hand when you are looking to learn more about hazardous waste disposal in Minnesota. 

When you download this resource guide, you will receive our thirteen page document that includes:

  • 4 online sources for searching MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets)

  • MPCA Fact Sheet: Managing Universal Wastes Guidance (Minnesota)

  • MPCA Fact Sheet: Managing PCBs in Ballasts and Small Capacitors

  • MPCA Fact Sheet: Basic Hazardous Waste Requirements for Businesses

DOWNLOAD NOW: Hazardous Waste Recycling Resource Guide

For more information about Hazardous Waste Services:
Also, get our Haz Waste Inventory Kit

Safe & Smart Packaging Options for Universal Waste

Storing your universal waste should not be a frustrating chore. Keeping your waste organized will save you valuable time and effort. The easiest way to stay organized is by using proper packaging materials. If you are unsure of where to start, first evaluate your needs and goals by asking yourself a few questions:

  • What types of universal waste do I have?
  • Is my current packaging secure or does it compromise my waste in any way?
  • Are there any packaging restrictions that apply to my waste?
  • Am I taking advantage of my available storage space?

Here are some packaging options for common universal wastes:

Lamp Barrels – Fluorescent Lamps, HIDs, CFLs, Miscellaneous Bulbs

Handling fluorescent lamps is a delicate task. They break easily and are difficult to clean up when they do. Not to mention, they contain mercury and can be dangerous if you become exposed to it. It is important to keep your old fluorescent lamps in a safe, protected container for transport and storage.

There are a few options when it comes to storing lamps. A common solution is to re-use the boxes that your new lamps come in. These boxes can adequately store and protect your spent lamps. They stack great on pallets and are easy to move. The downside, however, is their durability. Keep your boxed lamps raised off the ground and away from water to avoid having them become soaked and useless. Boxes are a great receptacle if kept intact.

Fiber drums, or lamp barrels, are another great storage alternative. The 4’ barrels are ideal for fluorescent lamps. These drums maximize storing capacity while minimizing storage space. They can hold over 300 T8 or 170 T12 tubes at one time. 2’ barrels are also available and are perfect for storing HIDs, CFLs, or smaller linear fluorescent lamps. There is very little hassle with these barrels. Just take the lid off and load in your spent lamps. Additionally, these barrels are easy to maneuver with a drum dolly and are generally a best-practice solution when it comes to storing fluorescent lamps for recycling.

It is not advised to tape lamps together for transport.

UN Rated Plastic Containers – Batteries, Ballasts, Mercury

Federal regulations have drastically changed the recycling process. Transporting universal waste isn’t as easy as it once was. Any potential threat must be addressed. Under these regulations all batteries, mercury, PCB Ballast, aerosols, Hazardous waste, and many more wastes are required to be transported in UN approved containers.

UN rated containers can be found in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are usually made out of a durable plastic and have tightening lids in order to prevent possible spills. The DOT requires packaging that could withstand accidents while in transit and limit any of the potentially harmful materials to be exposed on the road. If you are unsure whether your containers are UN approved, be sure to look for the official UN approved symbol.

Read more about specific battery packaging requirements.

Steel Drums – Hazardous waste, PCB Ballasts, Oil Based Paint

The 55 gallon steel drum is the go-to for Hazardous materials and chemicals. They are a great receptacle for number of hazardous items. Customers have found that consolidating* excess amounts of hazardous chemicals (oil based paint, used oil, etc.) can simplify the recycling process. They are also perfect for PCB ballasts and capacitors. *Always be sure that waste consolidation is done by a trained professional.

The downside to steel barrels is their weight. Avoid overfilling the drums with materials and chemicals. While they are capable of holding large amounts of waste, it will not matter it is too heavy to move.

Gaylord boxes – E-waste, Small Appliances

Electronics can be difficult to keep organized. Stacking your electronics on pallets can be a simple solution; however, they do not always stack easily. There are no universal dimensions when it comes to e-waste. The shapes can range from monitors, tube TVs, printers, circuit boards, paper shredders, to endless other examples. The easiest way to package large amounts of e-waste is by using Gaylord boxes. These boxes are a cubic yard and can hold over one thousand pounds of waste. They are ideal for large, bulky items and are effortless to move with a pallet jack or fork lift.

Every situation is different when it comes to storing universal waste for recycling. There are plenty of packaging options available that will save you time and effort. Find what works best to meet your goals and needs. Talk to an expert if you are unsure of packaging restrictions or handling procedures.

Get our easy reference Guide to Universal Waste Types!

Kicking off the Season: Community Clean Up Days

Although the Minnesota weather would portray another story today with fresh snow on the ground, it is Officially Spring and the season for Community Clean Up Days and Recycling Events has begun at TRC. The "events" we're talking about are community recycling events for special waste items like old fluorescent light bulbs, dead batteries, those crusty buckets of odd pieces and parts like that mercury thermostat or the burned out ballast from your garage light... and the computer from 1999 that's still sitting in your hall closet gathering dust. All those bulbs, batteries, mercury items and e-waste can't simply be slipped into the trash here in Minnesota and many communities, towns and cities hold annual events for residents to safely and responsibly dispose of these items.

Today, TRC's first events are happening in Lewiston, St. Charles and Winona, Minnesota, and the next will be this Saturday, April 10th in Maplewood, MN.

You can see a full list of events here.

Recharging your Knowledge of Recycling Batteries



Recycling batteries is not as easy as placing old newspapers on a curb. Apart from the energy they store, batteries can contain several toxic materials which are regulated by the EPA and the DOT can be harmful if exposed. As several unfortunate incidents have proven, even used batteries considered “dead” can be the source of fires when stored or transported incorrectly contacted by conductive materials. Proper, responsible disposal or recycling is a delicate matter whenever there is a potential threat to the environment or the safety of others. Like most potentially harmful wastes, The US Department of Transportation has developed laws in order to transport (dispose) of batteries safely.

Since the mid-1990’s TRC has gained expertise in the safe transportation of wastes ranging from toxic gases to Mercury containing lamps. Our recycling trucks have transported everything from old light bulbs to lead paint. This expertise and knowledge of waste handling and disposal regulations have helped our clients simplify the disposal and recycling process for all types of Universal and Hazardous waste. However, transporting waste is not always a simple task. There are many different regulations on state, county and federal levels, for many different forms of waste. Within the past few years, necessary precautions have been assigned to the transportation of a very common universal waste; batteries.

To help prevent accidents and spills, the DOT has come up with packaging requirements for the transportation of batteries.

  • All batteries must be separated by chemistry. For instance, alkaline batteries must be in a separate container than acidic batteries. Batteries have a higher chance of generating a spark with opposing chemistries.
  • Another requirement is protecting covering all battery terminals that exceed 9 volts to prevent short circuits. The battery electrical terminals are the main source of potential ignition when contacted by a conductive material. The DOT requires all terminals to be taped over, individually wrapped in plastic bags or insulated in another form in order to prevent a short circuit.

Once separated and protected, batteries must be containerized for transportation. Since most batteries are potentially harmful to the environment, DOT requires batteries meeting the definition of a hazardous material be shipped inDOT UN performance packaging. TRC has taken the guesswork out of selecting proper UN DOT approved packaging. We offer a wide range of packing to meet federal and state rules. If you have batteries which are too large for standard containers, (large sealed lead acid batteries), they can still be transported safely. Contact your sales representative and they will put you in touch with one of TRC’s transportation safety specialists, we're here to take the guesswork out of managing waste batteries and provide a safe outlet for proper transportation and recycling!

Free Hazardous Waste Consultation

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