Careless waste disposal sparks fires

Gas cooker canisters and batteries explode in rubbish trucks

Last Updated : 27 Nov 2020
Careless waste disposal sparks fires

Hazardous gas cooker canisters and lithium batteries are on the rise in rubbish and recycling trucks in Auckland and causing fires at the Transfer Station as these materials are dumped.

Kerbside collectors and bin inspectors are also spotting more of these items in the kerbside bins in Central Auckland.

“Because of the compacting equipment in our trucks, there is a significant chance of a fire occurring when items are crushed. Electronics and gas items should never be placed in kerbside rubbish or recycling bins,” says Councillor Richard Hills, Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Committee. 

Councillor Hills says the vigilance of truck operators and rigid safety protocols have avoided any injuries, but this is a risk that no one should have to face.

“As a simple rule, anything you plug in may pose harm to our staff, contractors or the public if it goes in your bin,” says Councillor Hills.

“When you dispose of these things correctly, it also means that more of this waste might be able to be recycled, saving valuable materials from landfill and helping our environment.”

“The careless act of putting a flammable item in the bin costs everyone because emergency services can be sent to the scene, there’s disruption to the collection services, and an added cost of cleaning up the contaminated materials. The truck needs to go through a full service and check before it can be deployed back in circulation. If the fire is in recycling, then not only is the material combustible due to paper and plastics that can catch fire quickly, but the whole load is destroyed, sending around six tonnes of recyclable materials to landfill.”

Hazards to avoid

Lithium-based batteries that power items such as mobile phones, power banks, laptops, power tools, gaming consoles, and vapers are all hazardous items, which cannot be put in our rubbish or recycling bins. These places can help you to safely recycle or dispose of them.

Anything that is flammable, toxic, explosive, corrosive, or radioactive, should be taken individually to transfer stations that specialise in managing hazardous waste. Common examples of hazardous waste include most chemicals, paint, acid, gas cooker aerosol canisters, gas cylinders, and many battery types, including lead, mercury, nickel, car, and zinc-based batteries. These can be taken to an authorised battery recycler

Auckland Council has an online tool that explains how to safely dispose of unwanted items if people are unsure whether an item is appropriate for the kerbside bin or not.

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