Cotswold District Council has warned residents of the risks of binning lithium-ion batteries after a fire broke out this week in one of its refuse collection vehicles (RCV).

Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service was contacted by a collection crew in South Cerney after a fire started in the back of their RCV. Two fire crews attended the scene and brought the fire under control before escorting the vehicle safely back to the waste transfer station. Nobody was hurt.

Cllr Mike Evemy, cabinet member with responsibility for waste and recycling at Cotswold District Council, said: ‘While we’ve been unable to establish the reason for the fire, it was probably started by a lithium-ion battery – the sort found in small rechargeable items such as toothbrushes, cameras and mobile phones. While most people only throw these items away every few years, the batteries are also used in single-use vapes. The sales of single-use vapes have risen dramatically in the last few years. Over five million e-cigarettes now end up in the UK’s litter bins and waste containers each week.

‘Disposable vapes are a well-known hazard due to the vast numbers out there and their potential to ignite or explode if damaged by compacting equipment on the refuse lorries. Because of this, it’s really important that householders keep items containing a battery out of rubbish and litter bins and dispose of them responsibly. The best way to do this is through an in-store take-back scheme. By law, shops selling electrical and electronic items must offer a like-for-like take-back service so these products can be recycled safely and efficiently.’

According to research by Materials Focus, the organisation behind the national Recycle Your Electricals campaign, more than 700 waste-related fires are responded to each year by the emergency services due to the unsafe disposal of batteries, many of which are hidden inside electrical and electronic equipment.

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