PSI supports MRF fires investigation effort

PSI supports MRF fires investigation effort

ISRI’s Paperstock Industries Chapter partners with EREF on facility fire study.


The Paperstock Industries Chapter (PSI) of the Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) has announced it is working with the Environmental Research & Education Foundation (EREF) on a study about fires at recycling industry sites. According to an email distributed by PSI, the study will encompass fires at material recovery facilities (MRFs), scrap recycling plants and in collection vehicles.

PSI says it is “a premier sponsor of the project,” contributing $2,000 toward the overall study cost of $34,000. PSI also says some of its members may be selected to participate in the study.

The study will compile information on the frequency of MRF and scrap recycling fires annually (as a percentage of the total number of facilities); the frequency of collection vehicle fires; the suspected causes of the fires; strategies and technologies used to fight the fires; damage caused by the fires (including property damage, personnel injury/death, or lost operating revenue); preventive measures taken to minimize the potential for fires; and the likelihood of lithium-ion batteries being discarded at MRFs or scrap yards and their potential to cause fires.

To compile that information, the researchers will review existing data sources, including but not limited to the U.S. Fire Administration, scientific and technical publications or data sets, and news reports on fire incidents, according to PSI.

The researchers also will develop and conduct a fire-related survey covering three categories (MRFs, scrap yards and collection vehicles) to assess the frequency of fires within the past one to three years, their suspected cause(s), strategies used to fight the fires, and damage caused by the fires. The part of the study on lithium-ion batteries will assess their possible contribution to fires in all three locations, as well as evaluating disposal and/or recycling-aspects of handling such batteries.

At least four EREF staff members will work on the study. The project timeline is 10 to 14 months, with summer 2020 as the preliminary target date for a final report.