Waste fire warning for summer season

Veolia and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council call on the public to help prevent fires and practise safe waste disposal behaviours

With warmer weather expected as the summer continues, Veolia and Southend-on-Sea Borough Council are calling on the public to safely dispose of their waste to help prevent fires. Hot barbecue coals, batteries and electricals can all cause fires, especially when mixing with waste that is drier than usual.

In January this year, Veolia revealed that only 43% of the public were aware that lithium-ion batteries could cause fires when incorrectly discarded in household bins. 

During the summer months hot coals from barbeques are another common cause of preventable fires as they are often mixed with waste before they are fully extinguished.

This summer Southend Borough residents are being asked to play it safe with waste by checking the Council’s website for details of how to correctly dispose of electricals and batteries, and ensuring that barbeque coals are fully extinguished before they are thrown away.

Here’s how to safely dispose of electrical items and hot coals, to prevent them from combusting:

  • Batteries: Batteries can be recycled. Most supermarkets will have a safe disposal point in store, or residents can take batteries to their local Household Waste and Recycling Centre, where they will be turned into something new. Do not put batteries in household recycling and waste sacks.
  • Hot coals from barbeques: Cover hot coals with sand and water to ensure they are completely cold (usually 2 days), before putting them in the general waste. 
  • Small electrical items (like toasters): Electrical items can be recycled. Southend residents can place small electrical items in a clear plastic carrier bag and leave it next to their pink sack on their collection day. It will be collected weekly at the same time as the rest of their waste and recycling. Otherwise, electrical items can be taken to one of the local Household Reuse and Recycling Centres. They should not be put in household recycling and waste sacks. 

Gavin Graveson, Executive Vice President at Veolia UK and Ireland says:

“Items that generate heat and electricity can easily combust in the back of waste vehicles or at our recycling and waste facilities. This is extremely dangerous and can result in fires. 

“People also forget that batteries and electrical items can be recycled. We should be doing everything we can to capture these materials to preserve our precious resources and protect the green economy. When residents are unsure of what can and can’t be put in their household recycling and waste bins, they should play it safe and check their Council website.”

Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment and planning, says: 

“During the summer period, there is a much greater risk of small fires starting from waste that has been disposed of inappropriately, varying from batteries to partially extinguished coals from barbecues. It is really important that we all do what we can to prevent such incidents from occurring.

“In Southend, our waste partner, Veolia, collects a wide range of waste and provides suitable facilities at the Household Waste Recycling Centres to dispose of potentially dangerous items. I would urge anyone with concerns around what can and cannot be recycled to double check by visiting the council’s website.”

For more information on what can and can’t go in your household recycling bin, check Southend Borough Council’s website at www.southend.gov.uk/recycling