There are no recycling programs for smoke alarms in Australia.
Smoke alarms have a 10 year lifespan. If everyone replaced their alarms after 10 years – more than 1.5 million smoke alarms (plus batteries, circuit boards and radioactive material) would end up in landfill every year.
The change in Queensland smoke alarm laws will see an additional 1 million alarms disposed of by 2021 and a further 3 million by 2026.
This is a major environmental and waste management crisis.
SAA Australia is the driving force to establish a national recycling program for smoke alarms.
Why recycle smoke alarms?
Smoke alarms are one of the most widely used consumer products. It is estimated that 96% of all homes have at least one smoke alarm – most homes have more than one.
Collectively, as smoke alarms are replaced, the result is a staggering amount of waste, including radioactive waste, entering the solid waste stream in Australia’s landfills. Solid waste facilities are not designed to manage radioactive waste and hazardous wastes.
Other concerns are the printed circuit boards which routinely fail toxicity tests for lead – and batteries. When batteries begin to rot away in landfill sites chemicals including lead, cadmium, lithium, manganese, nickel and zinc may leak into the ground which can cause soil and water pollution. When chemicals contaminate soil and water – animals, humans and the environment can be harmed.
The War on Waste image is used with the kind permission of the ABC.