Resident’s in some of Sydney’s most sought-after suburbs have been put on notice after a significant surge in the number of fires inside garbage trucks and depots caused by one item you shouldn’t be throwing into your household bin.
Waverley Council has issued a stern warning to people in the harbour city’s east after an increase in lithium-ion battery blazes over the last few months.
“Waverley Council has renewed calls for residents to dispose of household batteries correctly following a spike in lithium-ion related fires in our garbage trucks,” a spokesperson for the council told Yahoo News Australia, before explaining that “when a battery is crushed in a garbage truck compactor, it can cause a spark which can lead to a fire”.
Garbage truck fires increasing due to battery disposal
In an image shared by the council, a large blaze can be seen in the back of a rubbish truck, while some of the garbage — also on fire — has spilled out onto the ground. “These fires pose serious risks to our local environment, community and employees,” the spokesperson said.
The warning comes after residents in Bondi last year woke up to burning rubbish on a residential street a stone’s throw from the world-famous beach. A garbage truck had moments earlier dumped its load on Sir Thomas Mitchell Road after detecting a fire inside.
“The most likely source of ignition is from a lithium battery being crushed in the truck’s compactor,” a Waverley Council spokesperson told Yahoo at the time.
In Perth, a mountain of rubbish had to be dumped when a garbage truck caught fire after residents threw a computer keyboard containing batteries into a recycling bin.
Mayor of Waverley Paula Masselos said garbage truck fires “remind us of the dangers of throwing batteries in the bin”. “Whether it’s standard AAA or AA batteries we use in television remotes and children’s toys, to batteries found in other common appliances such as laptops, mobile phones, power tools and cameras,” she explained.
In the wake of recent fires in waste trucks and waste centres as a result of lithium-ion batteries, the federal government is facing calls to implement new regulations on battery-operated products.
Recycle or reuse batteries
According to Recycle Smart, 70 per cent of batteries sold each year in Australia are single-use batteries, while 97 per cent of all batteries sold in Australia end up in general waste landfills — that’s 8,000 tonnes every year.
Instead of dumping batteries in household bins, residents are encouraged to use local recycling centres or waste drop-off stations, or drop off their batteries at Officeworks, Aldi and other major retailers. When recycled, 95 per cent of the components of a battery are recoverable, and can be turned into new batteries or new products.
People are also encouraged to buy rechargeable batteries, which can also help save money as you can recharge them more than 1,000 times. It also reduces the use of finite natural resources and reduces the release of greenhouse gas emissions.
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