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Council safety warning over old batteries after fire

Residents are being urged to dispose of old batteries safely after one thrown carelessly into a recycling bin caused a fire in a recycling truck during collections in Ringmer.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze last Monday but the truck was left damaged and around five tonnes of recyclables – two weeks-worth of recycling from around 650 homes – were ruined and could not be recycled. 

Another Lewes District Council recycling truck was drafted in to complete the collection round. 

Councillor Julie Carr, Cabinet member for Recycling, Waste and Open Spaces, said: “We understand the fire was caused by a battery – likely an old phone or laptop battery – igniting the recyclables in the truck. 

“The irresponsible act of throwing a battery into a bin caused significant damage to the truck and it was sheer luck on this occasion that nobody was injured.  

“Discarding batteries in recycling or household waste bins can spark fires and puts people’s lives at risk – the message is simple: don’t do it! There are easy ways to safely get rid of old batteries.” 

Most non-rechargeable batteries can be recycled at supermarkets and other shops, while rechargeable batteries and electrical appliances can be taken to Household Waste Recycling Sites to be disposed of in a safe way. 

The Ringmer incident comes after two similar fires in Wealden bin collection trucks last month were caused by batteries thrown into bins. 

Councillor Carr added: “It is absolutely essential that people ​dispose of batteries responsibly and do not put them in either their household waste or recycling bins, otherwise it could cost someone their life.” 

To find local places where you can safely recycle old batteries, visit: