How to avoid a bincident

Recycling and disposing of waste correctly to prevent fires

Summer is here, and with it comes warm weather and the chance to enjoy the great outdoors – be that in gardens or Surrey's countryside.

What you may not know is that our local waste and recycling sites, like the Community Recycling Centres, see an increase in fire risks during the summertime.

The reason for this is a combination of hot weather and the improper sorting of certain higher risk materials. The main culprits are often batteries and leftover barbecue coals.

Batteries, especially the lithium-ion ones found in many of our electronics, can spark fires if they are not disposed of properly and get damaged. This can also happen when the waste gets compacted at the centres. Barbecue coals can stay hot long after your last sausage has been eaten, and this can be a serious fire hazard.

Here's how you can help:

Recycle your batteries properly

Don't throw your old batteries in the bin, take them to a recycling point. All 15 Community Recycling Centres in Surrey have battery recycling bins, and many supermarkets now have battery 'bring banks'. It's safer, greener, and means precious metals don't end up in landfill.

Don't forget that some items, like disposable vapes, contain batteries and should be separately recycled or have the batteries removed for recycling before disposing of the item.

Dispose of BBQ coals safely

After enjoying a summer barbecue, it's essential to ensure that the coals are entirely extinguished before disposal. Here's a simple way to do it:

  1. After your barbecue, allow the coals to burn out completely, which typically takes several hours.
  2. If you need to speed up the process, douse the coals with plenty of water. Be sure all embers are extinguished.
  3. Once cooled, transfer the ashes to a non-combustible metal container. Only after they've been left to cool for another 48 hours should they be disposed of in your general waste bin.
  4. Don't use disposable barbecues, opt for a picnic instead – they are single use and therefore bad for the environment. They also pose afire risk, so Surrey Fire and Rescue Service are asking that they are not used in public spaces where they could spark wildfires.
  5. If using disposable barbeques, please do not dispose of them in public bins without allowing proper time to cool.

By taking two steps this summer in correctly recycling batteries and safely disposing of barbecue coals, you can make a significant contribution towards reducing the risk of fire incidents, and being more environmentally sustainable. As we continue to enjoy the warm weather and summertime activities, let's keep Surrey green, clean, and safe for all.

For more information about our community recycling centres, including what you can recycle and where, visit our community recycling centres web page.

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