Fire at Recycling Center Likely Caused By Batteries in Recycling


Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Fire at Recycling Center Likely Caused By Batteries in Recycling

(Ithaca, NY) – On Monday afternoon, a load of recyclables from the residential drop off area began smoking inside the tip floor area of the Recycling and Solid Waste Center. Casella employees at the facility quickly responded with fire extinguishers and water from an adjacent fire hydrant, keeping the fire contained until the Ithaca Fire Department could take over. The fire was extinguished within an hour, and thankfully no injuries or damage occurred.

The Tompkins County Department of Recycling and Materials Management would like to sincerely thank all involved—especially Casella employees and the Ithaca Fire Department—for extinguishing the fire.

Although the exact cause of the fire has not been determined, it may have been due to batteries being incorrectly placed in single stream recycling. Non-alkaline batteries have the potential to overheat and catch fire, causing other materials in the recycling stream to ignite. Lithium-ion batteries in particular have been known to cause fires at recycling facilities nationwide.

For safety, batteries should never be included in your recycling bin. Alkaline batteries should be placed in a container or bag and added to your trash. For all other batteries, cover the terminal ends in tape, preferably with clear packing tape. Rechargeable batteries can be recycled at many retail locations or at the Recycling and Solid Waste Center. For a list of nearby battery drop-off locations, visit


Barbara Eckstrom, Director

Tompkins Recycling & Materials Management