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Biffa warns against dropping BBQs in bins as fires rise

16 June 2020

Biffa, the UK’s leading sustainable waste company, today issued an alert to the British public about the dangers of putting disposable barbecues and used coals in bins as lockdown gatherings lead to a rise in fires.

In recent weeks as lockdown restrictions have eased, Biffa has seen an increase in dangerous incidents involving fires in collection vehicles and at waste depots. These fires not only damage property, but puts refuse workers and the public at risk while also adding increased pressure to our emergency services at an already challenging time.  The source of these fires are a result of discarded BBQs, batteries and aerosols.

Disposable BBQs and hot coals can take up to 48 hours to fully cool so the public need to ensure they are left for that period or are cooled by soaking them in water. Once cold, they can be disposed of in the general waste.

Biffa also reminds the public that, lithium batteries, marine flares and aerosols are also considered hazardous waste and can be extremely dangerous if not disposed of correctly. Lithium batteries can even cause an explosion if collected with general household waste or recycling due to crushing, putting the driver’s life at risk as well as causing significant damage to the collection vehicle. Biffa’s table below sets out the correct ways to dispose of these types of hazardous items.

Paul Wright, Group Health and Safety Director at Biffa commented on the issue: “It’s great that most people now have the opportunity to meet family and friends and enjoy the sun outdoors, but with more of us barbecuing, it is absolutely essential that everyone applies due care and attention to the safe disposal of barbecues and coals in bins making sure that they are properly cooled and free from heat. I urge members of the public to dispose of all hazardous items correctly, including lithium batteries and aerosols and by doing this we can avoid putting both people and property at risk.”

Mark Andrews, National Fire Chiefs Council Waste and Recycling Lead commented:We urge people to take care when using and disposing of portable barbeques. We have seen first-hand the devastation these can cause when they start fires in our countryside and increasingly, we hear of incidents at waste centres. These preventable fires can be very large scale and protracted, requiring regional and national support to deal with.

Simple steps to correctly dispose of household waste is all that is required to prevent these incidents and the detrimental impact they have on Fire Services and local communities.”


Best practice for the safe disposal of hazardous items:

Hazardous item

Best practice

Portable BBQs / Coals

  • Wait 48 hours, ensure fully cool before disposing of in general waste.
  • Submerge in water if necessary.
  • Local fire service websites will be a useful source if unsure.


Lithium Batteries

  • Dispose at local recycling centres or battery disposal points within supermarkets.



Marine Flares


  • Contact the supplier you purchased from to arrange a safe return.
  • Nearby local licensed disposal sites including: local marina, life raft service stations and local authority household waste recycling centres.
  • Coastguard Operations Centres may also offer to take them, but be sure to call in advance.


  • Ensure cans are completely empty before recycling.
  • Do not pierce, squash or flatten cans.
  • Detach any loose parts, such as the lid and dispose of with the rest of the recycling.



For further information, contact:


0203 701 7660


About Biffa

Biffa, is the UK's leading sustainable waste management business. We have over 8,000 employees working across more than 200 sites to change the way people think about waste. We operate across the waste management value chain, including the collection, treatment, processing and disposal of waste, as well as the production and sale of recovered commodities such as energy, paper, glass, metals and plastic. We are first choice for customers, with our national customer base including local authorities, large corporates and SMEs, and purchasers of end-product commodities and energy. In FY20 we structured into two divisions: Collections and Resources & Energy. In FY20, the Group's total revenue was £1,102.8m and its Underlying EBITDA was £174.0m. Biffa has been listed on the London Stock Exchange since October 2016 under the ticker "BIFF". In March 2020, Biffa entered the FTSE-250.  

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