Portsmouth residents are being warned about the dangers of binning batteries after a recycling lorry caught fire last week.

Only the quick thinking of the waste crew from Biffa, Portsmouth City Council’s waste collection contractor, saved the £230,000 lorry and themselves from potential harm.

After making a morning collection of household recycling on Thursday 4 January, the crew noticed smoke pouring from the back of their truck. They quickly returned to the Portsmouth depot and emptied the burning, five-tonne pile out onto the yard.

Firefighters from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Fire & Rescue Service attended and managed to remove the burning battery before extinguishing it with water.

A lithium-ion battery had been incorrectly disposed of in a household recycling bin, and ignited when it was crushed by the compaction equipment in the lorry.

Cllr Dave Ashmore, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said:

“Thankfully no-one was hurt on this occasion thanks to the speedy actions of our crew. But incorrect disposal of batteries and electrical items puts the lives of our crews at risk and creates a serious risk of fire.

“Any battery disposed of in a waste or recycling bin can cause a fire, so please follow the simple instructions for safely disposing of your batteries.”

How to correctly dispose of batteries and electricals:

  • Never place any batteries in the domestic bins. The compaction equipment can damage them and cause fires in waste vehicles and at the recycling sorting facility.
  • Batteries can be recycled by putting them in a clear bag and placing it on top of your black rubbish bin or bag.
  • For batteries that can’t easily be removed (such as laptops and phones), leave the batteries in the equipment and place them in a carrier bag on top of your green recycling bin.
  • Batteries and electrical items can also be taken to Household Waste Recycling Centres or some local shops and businesses to be recycled.

The video shows firefighters from Cosham extinguishing the battery at the depot.

Find out where you can recycle, donate and repair electrical items and batteries on Share Portsmouth’s website: What to do with your small unwanted electricals – Share (Portsmouth) (shareportsmouth.org.uk)

Read more about how to recycle batteries and small electrical items can be found on our website: Batteries – Portsmouth City Council