According to the McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility, trash facility fires are up between 30 and 40 percent in recent years — and the likely cause of this increase is the improper disposal of lithium ion and other batteries. These batteries can spontaneously combust but will also explode when compressed. The significant increase in disposal of cell phones, tablets and computers, which are powered by these batteries has increased the potential of fires in solid waste facilities.

In McPherson County, McPherson Area Solid Waste Utility (MASWU) operates several solid waste facilities, and according to the MASWU, most of those facilities have experienced fires — including most recently at the landfill located halfway between McPherson and Lindsborg. The others are the transfer station and the composting operation just east of McPherson at 1431 17th Avenue and a Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) facility at the same property but on First Street (formerly Limestone Road). 

The Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 1431 17th Avenue is the proper place for lithium and all batteries to be properly disposed of, with the exception of alkaline batteries which can be thrown in the regular trash. 

In addition to HHW facilities located in most counties, some retail stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menard’s will accept them. In McPherson County, Tractor Supply and Orscheln’s will accept some, but not all batteries.