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Why smoke & CO alarms should be recycled

There are three main types of smoke alarm: photovoltaic smoke alarms and ionization smoke alarms. There are also combination ionization / photoelectric alarms. All three types are accepted by our program.

Smoke alarms that use ionization technology contain a small amount of radioactive material. It is protected behind a layer of metal and cannot harm you as long as it is contained. However, it can be dangerous if not disposed of correctly. In addition, all smoke and CO alarms contain recyclable materials, such as plastic and metal, which can be recycled into new materials instead of taking up unnecessary landfill space.

120,000 alarms collected in 2017

Enough to stack 25,000 feet in the air!

How does the CO and smoke alarm recycling process work?


How to recycle your alarms

Drop off your unwanted, broken or expired alarms at your nearest collection site. Each alarm recycling location will have a drop box where you can simply drop off your old alarms. These sites include bottle depots, private recycling businesses, retail stores, local government facilities, and fire departments across British Columbia. It’s free to drop off your smoke or CO alarm for recycling.

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The importance of checking your alarms

It’s important to check your alarms work correctly. The chance of a house fire fatality is reduced by half if you have working smoke alarms.

CO alarms sound an alert when a large amount of carbon monoxide has entered your home. Carbon monoxide poisoning can be fatal, and the gas is impossible to identify without a proper detector. It’s particularly important to have a working CO alarm if you have gas-run appliances in your home, such as a fireplace or stove.

Smoke and CO alarms should be tested once a month to make sure they’re working properly. Usually, they will have a button which you can press to test the alarm.

You should replace the batteries in your alarms once a year, even if they’re still working. It’s recommended to coordinate changing the batteries with a regular event, like a birthday, so that you remember.

If your smoke or CO alarm is more than ten years old, it should be recycled and replaced. If you notice it isn’t working correctly when tested, or after a battery change, it should also be replaced.

How smoke and CO alarms are recycled

When you drop off your smoke alarms for recycling, they’re sorted by type.

  • Radioactive Element

    The radioactive element in ionization alarms is safely removed and then shipped for final disposal at a licensed radioactive waste facility.

  • Plastic

    Components are separated and crushed into small pieces.

  • Metal

    They are then used to make new products.

Frequently Asked Questions