Near miss after battery ignites in refuse truck

Don’t put batteries in your bins.

That is the simple message from the Council's refuse collectors as a crew escaped serious injury after a fire in their lorry.

While collecting waste in a built up area of the city, one of the loaders smelt smoke coming from the back of the truck.

They immediately got clear of the vehicle and called the fire service.

Luckily, a fire engine was able to get there quickly and put out the fire before any lasting damage was done.

The cause of the fire was soon found to be an old laptop battery that someone had put out in their green recycling bin. 

Batteries of all kinds, from AAAs right up to car batteries, should not be put in any bin, but instead taken to one of our household waste recycling centres. 

“It was certainly a scary moment,” said one crew member, “but it could have been a lot, lot worse. I’m just glad we spotted it when we did before the fire took over.

“The compaction mechanism in the back of the vehicle is so powerful that if you put a battery in, it gets crushed and if then leaks out on to something flammable, generally in the recycling waste, it’s not long before we’ve got a big problem. 

“I know it might seem easy to put little tiny batteries in the bin, but on behalf of all the guys I work with, please don’t.”

Crew Manager Carol Frances, of Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, added: “Batteries in household waste and recycling can lead to large scale and protracted fires. 

“These incidents are often very challenging for fire services to deal with and can cause significant disruption to communities. 

“Many people may not realise the importance of the correct disposal of batteries so this simple advice can make a real difference in preventing waste fires.”

If you can’t take your batteries to the recycling centre then there are other ways to dispose of them as many supermarkets have disposal points. For the last decade, any shops selling more than 32kg of batteries have to provide battery recycling collection facilities in-store. This means there are now lots more places where you can take your old batteries for recycling.

You can find you nearest battery bin on the Recycle Now website

For more information on what should or shouldn’t go in your household rubbish, go to our waste page.