Skip to content

Help prevent avoidable waste fires in Oxford - ODS urges residents to think before they throw batteries away

ODS, Oxford City Council’s trading company, which is responsible for domestic and commercial waste collections and recycling across the city, is urging residents to think about what they throw out in their household waste. The aim is to reduce the risk of avoidable fires caused by batteries in waste and recycling vehicles.

On 5 July, there was a fire in a Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV) collecting domestic mixed recycling in Blackbird Leys. Thanks to the fast actions of the ODS crew and Oxford Fire and Rescue Service, the situation was swiftly brought under control and there were no injuries. However, this could have had a major impact on household waste collection services.

Research conducted by Material Focus (Circular, 2022) amongst local authorities across the UK identified that over 700 fires in waste trucks and sites are caused by batteries that haven’t been removed from electricals. This year alone, ODS’ waste and recycling crew has had to manage three dangerous RCV fires which were likely to have been caused by the incorrect disposal of batteries, or electrical items containing batteries such as vapes or mobile phones.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) recently commissioned a national YouGov poll, which found that most consumers lack confidence about how to safely dispose of many of the common culprits that cause waste fires, including batteries, flammable liquids, compressed gas canisters, vape devices and barbecue or fire pit ashes. This lack of knowledge likely contributes to the items being discarded improperly.

No batteries, or items containing batteries, should be placed in either rubbish or mixed recycling bins. The Oxfordshire County Council online Waste Wizard enables residents to check where and how to dispose of hazardous household waste through a simple postcode search.


ODS Waste and Recycling Manager, Rupert Biddiscombe, said: “Please help us, to help you! ODS is appealing to Oxford’s residents to think before they throw away any dangerous items that could, when incorrectly disposed of, pose a fire risk to themselves, our hardworking crews and vehicles, and other people and their properties.

“A moment of recklessness can not only have disastrous impact at the location of the fire, but waste collections right across Oxford can also be significantly impacted by the knock-on effect of damaged vehicles being taken out of service.”


Councillor Nigel Chapman, Cabinet Member for Citizen Focused Services and Council Companies, said: “One small act, like putting phone or vape batteries in general waste or recycling, can cause immense disruption, considerable damage to our collection vehicles, and create danger to the public and our operators. Please make sure you dispose of these batteries appropriately so that they can be properly treated and not cause a hazard.”

ODS offers a weekly household collection service for batteries, cables, and small electricals and electronics such as toothbrushes, toasters, hairdryers and headphones that have a plug, battery or cable and will fit in a standard carrier bag. Residents should place batteries and electricals in separate bags and put them on top of their rubbish, mixed recycling or garden waste bins or sacks. The contents within the bags should be visible.


For more information visit the waste and recycling web page.