COOL IT: Don’t drop your hot BBQ in the bin


To coincide with Health and Safety at Work Day, Biffa is reminding people about the dangers of putting hot disposable barbeques and used coals in with their rubbish. Binning hot BBQs has led to a rise in fires, putting both Biffa’s refuse workers and the general public at risk while putting more pressure on emergency services.

As lockdown restrictions have eased, Biffa has seen an increase in dangerous incidents involving fires in collection vehicles and at waste depots. The sources of these fires are discarded uncooled BBQs, batteries and aerosols. Within the past two months alone, Biffa has seen 18 separate fire incidents, of which five incidents identified a Lithium battery as the primary cause and two where hot coals were the primary cause.

Paul Wright, Group Health and Safety Director at Biffa, commented: “It’s essential that people ensure BBQs are extinguished with water before disposing of these to prevent fires. These fires can often have enormous consequences, damaging collection vehicles, and risking the lives of our refuse workers. They can also often be extremely difficult to manage on the side of a road. Protecting our key workers on the front line who have worked tirelessly through the pandemic should be of the upmost importance to everyone.”

Disposable BBQs and hot coals can take up to 48 hours to fully cool so the public need to ensure they are left for that period or are cooled by soaking them in water. Once cold, they can be disposed of in the general waste.

Mark Andrews, National Fire Chiefs Council Waste and Recycling Lead, commented: “Fire and Rescue Services are faced with a large number of incidents in the home, outdoors and in waste and recycling plants which can easily be prevented by following simple safety advice to dispose of everyday items in the right way. We ask people to follow this advice to help keep yourselves and your communities safe from fire.”

As well as hot BBQs, lithium batteries, marine flares and aerosols are classified as hazardous waste and can be extremely dangerous if not disposed of correctly. Lithium batteries can even cause an explosion if collected with general household waste or recycling due to crushing, putting the driver’s life at risk as well as causing significant damage to the collection vehicle. Biffa’s table below sets out the correct ways to dispose of these types of hazardous items.

Best practice for the safe disposal of hazardous items:

Portable BBQs / Coals

– Wait 48 hours, ensure fully cool before disposing of in general waste.
– Submerge in water if necessary.
– If you use a BBQ away from home ensure it is in an area specially designated for BBQs.
– Never use your BBQ on a balcony or in an enclosed area.
– Local fire service websites will be a useful source if unsure.

Lithium Batteries

– Dispose at local recycling centres or battery disposal points within supermarkets.

Marine Flares

– Contact the supplier you purchased from to arrange a safe return.
– Use nearby local licensed disposal sites including: local marina, life raft service stations and local authority household waste recycling centres.
– Coastguard Operations Centres may also offer to take them, but be sure to call in advance.