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The batteries 'bomb' in your rubbish

Batteries in Boston's recycled waste are thought to be responsible for the second fire in recent weeks at the waste transfer station in Slippery Gowt Lane.

Now an urgent appeal has been issued for batteries and electrical items not to be put into your blue or green bins.

Even apparently dead batteries can carry enough of a charge to short and provide a source of ignition. These can be buried in a pile of as much as 100 tonnes of combustible material at the transfer station operated by Lincolnshire County Council which takes waste from Boston borough and East Lindsey district.

Ian Taylor, Environmental Services Team Leader (Waste) for the county council, said: "The first fire caused some damage to the building and its fittings. The most recent fire was spotted quickly and the source removed and extinguished. Almost all the material in the recycling collection is combustible, so it's not hard to imagine the consequences if there is an ignition source buried deep within it. So far we have been lucky, but luck can run out."

The latest culprit is thought to have been the mobile phone battery (pictured) found among the smouldering rubbish dragged from the pile.

The battery which may have started the latest fire Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window

Ian explained that batteries, or any electrical equipment which requires mains power or a battery to work, should not be included in waste collections because of the potential fire hazard they pose. Sellers of batteries in sufficient quantities - and that's most supermarkets - have to, by law, provide battery collection points for safe recycling.

He said: "Of course, we should recycle electrical items and batteries, but not in either the recycling or refuse bins."

Batteries and electrical goods can be disposed of for free at the Slippery Gowt or any other household waste recycling centre. Large items, such as televisions or desktop computers, can be collected under Boston Borough Council's bulky waste arrangements - www.boston.gov.uk/bulky or call 01205 314200.

During a recent examination, every sample of Boston's recycling collections revealed contamination with batteries and electrical items

Other items in Boston's 100-tonne recycling pile that should not be there included a bag of nuts, probably left over from Christmas, food waste, recycled food containers which had not been washed clean, textiles, such as clothing, items knotted inside plastic bags and plastic film. At the moment 35 per cent of items in Boston's recycled collection cannot actually be recycled. That's a massive 35 tonnes in the current 100-tonne pile - 2.45 tonnes in every full bin lorry load.

Action is already on its way to deal with those who routinely or seriously contaminate their blue bin recycling collection. There will be a substantial period of education and information before new rules come into effect which could culminate in worst offenders receiving a £75 fine.

A full-colour guide to recycling in Boston borough has been sent to ALL households with their council tax bills. If you follow the basics contained within the guide you will not go wrong. The guide can also be seen at www.boston.gov.uk/bins

You can also pick up a copy of the leaflet from the council's reception office in West Street.

Dealing with contamination in the recycling collection costs everybody more money and impacts the environment as material cannot be recovered for recycling. 

100 tonnes of your rubbish - 35 tonnes of it shouldn't be here Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
This is what 100 tonnes of recycled waste looks like - this is Boston's pile at the waste transfer station. But in this will be 35 tonnes which cannot be recycled. This is the pile in which a discarded mobile phone battery is thought to have started a fire

Another 100-tonne pile Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
This is another 100-tonne pile - this is Boston's residual waste - which will be transferred to the Energy From Waste plant near Lincoln to be burned to generate electricity. In this pile will be 25 tonnes of waste which could have been recycled