Toowoomba Regional Council (TRC) is reminding residents of the dangers of placing any type of e-waste and batteries in domestic wheelie bins after two recent fires ignited in waste collection trucks due to incorrect disposal.
TRC Water and Waste Portfolio Lead Cr Nancy Sommerfield said two recent waste collection truck fires were caused by laptop computers which were incorrectly disposed of by residents in domestic wheelie bins.
“When compacted in the truck, the lithium-ion batteries of these laptop computers ruptured and ignited. The drivers followed standard procedure and ejected the loads at the first safe location in order to save the vehicle.
“Our message to residents is clear, do not dispose of any e-Waste or batteries of any type in your domestic wheelie bin, you may be putting someone’s life in danger by doing so,” Cr Sommerfield said.
Sommerfield said if batteries don’t ignite in the truck, they may later cause fires at waste management facilities. The lithium-ion content of batteries and other e-waste have been causing an array of fires throughout the country, including at material recycling facilities as well as rubbish trucks. The main issue with such fires is that water cannot put out a lithium-ion fire, which means other more environmentally unfriendly applications have to be used. On average, there is one lithium created fire a day in Australia.
“While lithium-ion batteries are particularly dangerous, normal household batteries can also cause fires if they make a circuit and arc,” Sommerfield said.
“Household batteries, including lithium-ion types should be disposed of at the B-cycle bins at local supermarkets. Other e-Waste can be disposed of at local waste management facilities.
“Other dangerous materials including vehicle batteries, paint thinners, flammable liquids and gas cylinders should also be disposed of at local waste management facilities.”