MORE than 1,000 potentially fire-starting gas canisters have been found in Somerset recycling this year alone.

The shocking figure comes just months after Somerset Council issued fire safety tags to all blue recycling bags across the county, reminding residents not to include gas canisters, vapes, or batteries in with their regular recycling.

SUEZ, Somerset's waste contractor, revealed today (Friday, May 31) that over 1,000 potential fires have been avoided in 2024, thanks to the vigilant crews at the material recovery facilities in Taunton and Evercreech.

Crews have been faced with no choice other than to manually check recycling ahead of the automated sorting process to avoid sparking dangerous blazes, due to a huge increase in canisters being put out with recycling.

The small canisters, mainly used for camping gas stoves, are often mistakenly put in the kerbside recycling ‘Bright Blue Bag’, which can be used to recycle empty aerosol bottles such as hair spray or deodorant, but should never be used to dispose of gas canisters.Somerset County Gazette: Some of the canisters retrieved by recycling workers.Some of the canisters retrieved by recycling workers. (Image: Somerset Council)

Somerset Council is urging residents to remember that has canisters must be taken a local household recycling site, and care must be taken when discarding other items including batteries and barbeques.

Disposable barbeques put into rubbish bins without being fully soaked and extinguished can retain heat, smoulder and start a fire in trucks and when tipped back at the depot.

In the past year ten fires have started at SUEZ’s material recovery facilities or within trucks, including at Taunton Recycling Centre in October. 

All of these fires have reportedly broken out when hazardous materials including large and household batteries, as well as gas canisters, have mistakenly gone through the baling process.

SUEZ's hazardous recycling reminder to Somerset residents

  • Small household batteries can be recycled in weekly kerbside collections, but must be presented in a clear, tied plastic bag and clearly placed on the top of the recycling box. Batteries must not be left loose in recycling boxes, put in the Bright Blue Bag or in the rubbish bin.
  • Large batteries, such as car batteries, cannot be recycled at the kerbside and should be taken to a recycling site.
  • Small household batteries and electricals can also be taken to recycling sites, always check with team on-site for the correct area to put these.
  • Small gas canisters - like those used in camping stoves are not recyclable in kerbside collections and must not be put in the rubbish bin. They must be taken a local household recycling site. Always check with team on-site for the correct area to put these. 
  • Disposable barbecues should be fully immersed in water and left to cool completely before putting into the rubbish bin.