Biffa reminds residents of BBQ disposal safety as fires rise

Waste management company Biffa has released safety guidelines advising residents not to place hot coals and disposable BBQs in bins.

As the Covid-19 lockdown eases and temperatures rise, the use of disposable BBQs has increased. In its safety alert released on Tuesday (16 June), Biffa reported that unsafe disposal has resulted in dangerous incidents such as fires in collection vehicles and at waste depots, damaging property and risking the safety of refuse workers and members of the public.

BBQs and hot coals should only be disposed of in general waste bins after they have been fully cooled. This can be done either by waiting 48 hours, or by soaking the items in cold water until the temperature has been lowered.

Lit disposable BBQ grillBiffa also issued additional guidelines on the disposal of other hazardous items. Lithium batteries should be disposed of at local recycling centres or battery disposal points at supermarkets. Aerosol cans should be completely empty before recycling, with care not to pierce, squash or flatten the item. Any loose parts, such as the lid, should be detached and disposed of with the rest of the recycling.

These items can be similarly dangerous if not disposed of safely – lithium batteries can cause explosions while being collected with general household waste or recycling due to crushing, which significantly risks the life of the driver and damage to the collection vehicle.

Biffa’s warning echoes those issued previously by the British Metals Recycling Association (BMRA), which warned people against putting electricals in their bins as they could cause fires and explosions.

Commenting on the unsafe disposal of BBQs, Paul Wright, Group Health and Safety Director at Biffa, said: “It’s great that most people now have the opportunity to meet family and friends and enjoy the sun outdoors, but with more of us barbecuing, it is absolutely essential that everyone applies due care and attention to the safe disposal of barbecues and coals in bins making sure that they are properly cooled and free from heat.

He continued: “I urge members of the public to dispose of all hazardous items correctly, including lithium batteries and aerosols and by doing this we can avoid putting both people and property at risk.”

Mark Andrews, National Fire Chiefs Council Waste and Recycling Lead, added: “We urge people to take care when using and disposing of portable barbeques. We have seen first-hand the devastation these can cause when they start fires in our countryside and increasingly, we hear of incidents at waste centres.”

“These preventable fires can be very large scale and protracted, requiring regional and national support to deal with. Simple steps to correctly dispose of household waste is all that is required to prevent these incidents and the detrimental impact they have on Fire Services and local communities.”

In addition to an increase in fire incidents, Biffa has noticed a rise in fly-tipping during lockdown, and launched a fly-tipping clearance app in April in response to the increase in illegal dumping. The app allows retailers, private landowners and estate agents to report incidents of fly-tipping, which can then be removed and processed in an environmentally responsible manner.

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