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A vape battery the size of an adult’s thumb caused a recycling collection truck to catch fire in Melville.

Disposed of in a yellow kerbside recycling bin, the vape caused a fire in the Hamilton City Council truck on Thursday 23 February, Dowding Street.  

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

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.  

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. This is the third incident of a battery causing fires within the last 12 months in either a collection truck or at our Materials Resource Facility, where recycling is sorted. 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.


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