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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Athena Hollins (DFL)

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Rep. Hollins Statement on Garbage Truck Fire Involving Lithium Battery

Thursday, April 4, 2024

SAINT PAUL, Minn. - On Tuesday, April 2nd, a Eureka Recycling truck experienced a fire, likely due to an improperly disposed of lithium battery. In the interest of public safety, the driver unloaded the burning materials onto the frontage road near Macalester College on Summit Avenue. It is likely that dangerous fires like this will happen more and more frequently if we do not do something to improve collection of these items. End of life lithium-ion batteries are expected to increase 6-fold by 2030. Representative Athena Hollins (DFL-Saint Paul) is sponsoring legislation in the Minnesota House to develop a comprehensive system to collecting e-waste products and materials.   

If passed, HF 3566 would provide free and accessible electronics recycling options for all Minnesota residents. To fund this program, producers will pay for the collection costs of TVs, computers, and gaming devices, as well as other items like small appliances, electronic toys, and other items with batteries and cords. To achieve this, a small fee (3.2%) would be added to the upfront cost of these items. Retailers would have the option to include this fee in the final sale price. 

Rep. Hollins released the following statement:  

“The recent fire involving a Eureka Recycling truck serves as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by improperly disposed lithium batteries. While I am deeply grateful for the swift response by the Saint Paul Fire Department and that no one was seriously injured, this incident cannot be dismissed as a one-off. It is the second reported battery fire in Minnesota within the past month, putting both workers and civilians at risk. We must take a more proactive approach to managing these powerful components before tragedy strikes.” 

Representative Athena Hollins is partnering with Maria Jensen, Co-Director of Recycling Electronics for Climate Action, to host legislative tours at recycling facilities in Minnesota to amplify the needs of a comprehensive state-based electronic waste recycling.    

The 2024 Electronic Recycling Facility tours will take place on the following dates:    

Saint Paul: Friday, April 5th at 12:30 PM at Repowered - Electronics Recycling, Collection Site  

St. Cloud: Friday, April 12th at 12:30 PM at Integrated Recycling Technologies, Processing Facility