The Fiery Side of Waste

Central Coast Council is appealing to residents to be careful with what they put in their waste and recycling bins and bulk kerbside clean ups, following several recent incidents where collected household waste has caught fire.

Fire in waste collection.

19 July 2023


ON Monday 10 July, a waste collection driver was forced to, and did so safely, eject the truck’s load of yellow lid bin recycling, in a carpark on Evans Road Toukley after the driver observed smoke within the collected waste inside the truck. NSW fire fighters contained the area and helped to extinguish the fire.


This followed a separate incident the previous week where a waste truck was forced to eject its load of bulk kerbside waste collection at an oval in Kariong.  NSW Fire Brigade investigators identified the source of the fire coming from a box of discarded mobile phones with lithium batteries, wrongly placed inside the bulk kerbside waste.


While in both recent incidents there was minimal damage to the vehicles, a third incident at Ettalong in late 2022 resulted in significant damage to the collection truck due to fire damage.


Central Coast Council Waste and Resource Recovery Unit Manager, Andrew Pearce said these incidents are consistently being identified by NSW Fire Bridge to have been caused by incorrectly discarded lithium batteries in household waste.


“Lithium batteries are commonly found in cordless rechargeable or battery-operated devices such as: toys, tools, laptop computers, vapes, mobile phones, appliances and solar powered devices.  The danger is that lithium batteries can spontaneously ignite when overheated or damaged,” Mr Pearce said.


Council Administrator Rik Hart said these incidents are an important reminder to all residents that lithium batteries must never be thrown out with general waste or household recycling.


“Residents can safely drop off household batteries, mobile phones (and accessories) to Council libraries, Customer Service Centres, Buttonderry Community Recycling Centre (Buttonderry Waste Management facility) and Woy Woy Waste Management facility.


“If you cannot safely remove the battery from your item, please dispose of the whole item with the battery intact via drop off at Councils E Waste Recycling Program or Chemical Cleanouts.”


Other items that may combust include car batteries, gas bottles, flares, fuel cans, butane canisters, chemicals including acids and hot ashes (from fireplaces, BBQs and fire pits).


“We implore the community be careful, and to abide by what is allowed to be included in rubbish bins and kerbside rubbish for pick up.


“While the recent incidents have been managed and contained with no damage to crews, and minimal damage to the vehicles – it could have been much worse, and I thank the Council staff and NSW Fire Brigade for their rapid response,” Mr Hart said.


Visit Council’s web page for the safe disposal of items classified as Hazardous Waste Disposing.

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