Bags tagged to flag fire safety risks
2nd November 2023
Residents across Somerset have had fire safety tags added to their recycling bright blue bags.
Somerset Council and its collections contractor, SUEZ recycling and recovery UK, have used the tags to warn residents about the dangers of putting certain fire-starting items such as camping gas canisters out with their recycling.
To help prevent fires, keep crews safe and raise awareness, the tags (which warn of the dangers of flammable items) have been added to every household’s recycling bright blue bag.
SUEZ staff have found a record number of gas canisters in the recycling collected from Somerset residents, with a staggering 2,500 found since May 2023. Each one of these could have started a fire. Crews are not allowed to rummage through bright blue bags at the kerbside in case they contain any broken glass which could harm them.
In the last year there have been six incidents of fires/small explosions in trucks and at depots. Although extra manual checks are done by keen eyed staff during the sorting process, each canister is a potential explosive fire risk when it gets to the depot. Please note that the cause of the recent fire at the Taunton Recycling Site is still to be determined.
Even though gas canisters pose a danger, aerosols like hair sprays and deodorants do not and should be put in the bright blue bag – gas canisters have a higher pressure and contain more flammable gas which makes them a fire risk.
Somerset Council and SUEZ also warn that it is not just gas canisters that pose a risk, other items that are recyclable need to be presented correctly to keep everyone safe.
Items such as batteries and vapes should be presented with care:
· Vapes: can be recycled, put in an open bag alongside or on top of recycling boxes. If it is reusable, the battery can be removed and recycled.
· Batteries: household batteries can be put in a clear, tied bag and placed on top of the recycling. Batteries should never be put in the rubbish bin.
Small gas canisters can be taken to any of Somerset’s 16 recycling sites, they should speak to a member of site staff about where to leave them. Residents can find their local site online: www.somerset.gov.uk/waste
The bright blue bag is used to recycle plastic pots, tubs, trays and bottles, tin cans, foil and aerosols.
Councillor Dixie Darch, Executive Member for Executive Lead Member for Environment and Climate Change said:
“It’s great that residents are making the effort to recycle but some items can pose a danger to crews and trucks. It’s important that we handle these items with care.
“The tag will help provide a reminder each time we put our recycling out to be collected.”
Matt Canning, Contract Director at SUEZ recycling and recovery UK in Somerset said:
“The safety of our dedicated staff at SUEZ and of the residents we service are very important, with the increase in fires over the past year posing a significant risk to both. We created this new tag to help inform residents about proper disposal methods.
“We ask that all residents take note of their new tag, found on the blue bag, and implement this in their everyday recycling”
Somerset Council makes more than 350,000 collections a week and more than 96% of the recycling that is collected stays in the UK.
To find your local recycling site or download your collection calendar visit: www.somerset.gov.uk/waste.