21 July 2024

Disposed vape battery in recycling bin causes collection truck fire

A vape battery disposed in a yellow kerbside recycling bin caused a recycling collection truck to catch fire in the city yesterday.

The incident happened on Dowding Street in Melville and the vape battery – the size of an adult’s thumb, was found to be the cause of the fire in the Hamilton City Council truck.

The EnviroWaste driver, who was unharmed, noticed smoke and reacted quickly. Fire and Emergency responded and extinguished the fire swiftly.  

vape battery caused fire to truck
Lithium in vape battery caused this truck to catch fire

This is reportedly the third incident of a battery causing fires within the last 12 months in either a collection truck or at Council’s materials resource facility, where recycling is sorted

Batteries used for vaping are not the same as batteries found in smartphone or other devices though they all contain lithium. Vaping batteries are considered much stronger than traditional AA batteries.

Recycling and landfill bins compact the contents as its collected and lithium batteries are highly flammable under pressure, they can catch fire and even explode.  

Vaping batteries -like other batteries, need to be disposed safely

Tania Hermann, Council’s Sustainable Resource Recovery Unit Director says these instances are all too common.  

“I am so pleased the driver was unharmed and responded quickly, there was potential we could’ve been telling a very different story…All because of an item which should never have been in a kerbside bin in the first place. 

“Our priority is the safety of our staff and contractors. No one wants to be responsible for another person getting injured. Please don’t put any battery, no matter how big or small, into your kerbside landfill or recycling bin.”   

Lithium is found in batteries from vacuum cleaners and other appliances, laptops and scooters. AA and AAA batteries also leach into soil as they corrode. All batteries can be taken for free to the Lincoln Street Resource Recovery Centre for safe disposal.


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