Warning after batteries thought to have caused bin wagon fire

Date Released - 22/08/2023

WASTE bosses are highlighting a recent bin wagon fire in Tameside in a plea to people to dispose of old batteries safely.


The Tameside Council trade waste collection lorry caught fire in Sheply Industrial Estate, Audenshaw, last Thursday (17 August) while collecting general waste from businesses.


When emptying a bin into the vehicle, the crew saw flames coming out, so stopped the process and called 999.


Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service attended the scene and had to cut a hole in the side of the wagon to extinguish the fire. Damage to the vehicle is extensive and includes the lifting mechanism and all the electrics and packing mechanism. The suspected cause of the fire was a was a lithium ion battery.


The fire happened to coincide with the current Recycle for Greater Manchester and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) #BeBatteryAware campaign, supported by Tameside Council, to tackle the issue of fires in bins and at Household Waste Recycling Centres caused by the incorrect disposal of batteries.


As well as traditional batteries, many everyday household items including laptops, mobile phones, electric toys, Bluetooth devices, shavers, electric toothbrushes and power-bank chargers contain hidden batteries. When collected from household or trade bins and compacted in the back of the bin wagon or when they go through the waste sorting plants, they can be crushed and start fires. Battery fires can also be started by vapes and electronic cigarettes.


Residents and businesses are being urged to stop putting any item containing a battery in any of their bins at home or work and instead take them to their nearest recycling point. You can find your nearest recycling point for batteries and old electrical items at www.recycleforgreatermanchester.com/batteries or visit Recycle Your Electricals - WEEE Recycling - Material Focus


Tameside Council Executive Member for Cllr Denise Ward responsible for environmental services said: “This bin wagon fire is a timely example of the hazards of people not disposing of old batteries and electrical equipment correctly. From April 1 to June 30 this year, Greater Manchester’s waste management contractor SUEZ reported 37 fire-related incidents due to lithium batteries alone – which highlights the extent of the problem.


“We want to help make people aware of hidden batteries, and the dangers they can cause, so they can dispose of them safely to keep residents, waste collection crews, recycling centre staff and firefighters safe. I urge people to be responsible – it’s easy to find out where your nearest recycling point is and dispose of your old batteries and electric items there, reassured that you are not going to cause any fires or pose any dangers to anyone.”