Brisbane garbage trucks forced to dump loads after battery fires

Eight Brisbane City Council waste trucks have caught fire this financial year, prompting warnings from Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner.

At least two of the fires were started by lithium or lithium-ion batteries, which are commonly used in laptop computers, mobile phones, and power drills, and which can spontaneously ignite when overheated or damaged.

In all eight instances, the drivers of the BCC trucks were forced to dump their loads on suburban streets.

Cr Schrinner said that If “hot loads are not detected early”, they can injure or even kill drivers and other members of the public.

“Two of these life-threatening incidents were confirmed to be caused by batteries, but in most cases, the majority of the contents are so badly burnt we can’t find the source,” he said.

Cr Schrinner has asked residents not to put household batteries in council rubbish bins, but to take them instead to waste recovery centres that have areas set aside for batteries. Some retailers, including Aldi supermarkets, Officeworks, and Battery World, also collect unwanted batteries.   

The first national battery recycling scheme (led by the Battery Stewardship Council and with Energizer and Duracell confirmed as members) is in the design phase and is expected to be launched in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Click here for fact sheets on how the scheme will operate and what batteries will be covered.