A series of fires in bin lorries across the east Midlands has prompted local councils to urge the public to dispose of batteries responsibly.

Cambridge City Council (CCC), Fenland District Council (FDC) and North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) have all warned about the dangers of throwing lithium-ion batteries into wheelie bins after the practice triggered fires in their trucks.

Cambridge alone has seen seven fires since January, putting drivers and crew in danger.

Bode Esan, CCC head of Greater Cambridge shared waste, said: “The compacting process in the back of bin lorries can easily crush and split batteries – which go on to ignite or even cause an explosion.

“Whenever a fire breaks out in the back of one of our trucks, our crews are put in danger as they must rapidly find a safe place to unload the recycling or waste to stop the fire engulfing the lorry.

“Any member of the public around the vehicle is of course also put at risk. We’re hugely grateful to Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue for their prompt assistance on many recent occasions but we should all do our bit to prevent them being needed.”

FDC said its waste crews were collecting bins in March when they noticed smoke billowing out of the back of a lorry.

The fire service believed the blaze, which led to four tonnes of material being extinguished, was caused by a lithium-ion battery.

These batteries are found in mobile phones, toothbrushes, laptops and e-scooters, as well as e-cigarettes and vapes.

“Our very simple plea to residents is not to put any battery, electrical item or vape into any household waste bin, or indeed any waste bin,” said councillor Peter Murphy, FDC portfolio holder for refuse and cleansing.

“We have seen how easily they can cause a fire and put the safety of our crews at risk.”

The public is urged to dispose of batteries safely and responsibly

The public is urged to dispose of batteries safely and responsibly

Source: Shutterstock

NNC said its bin crews recently had to act fast to avoid fires because residents’ batteries were not being recycled correctly.

“Our waste crews have had a couple of lucky escapes recently and it was only their quick thinking which prevented fires on bin lorries,” said NNC’s leader of the council, Jason Smithers.

“Any fire could have been potentially very disruptive, with rounds having to be cancelled or amended, not to mention the loss of a vehicle.”