Rumpke warns of fires after batteries improperly placed in trash cans, recycling bins

Kenton Hornbeck
Kenton is a reporter for LINK nky. Email him at [email protected]

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Since January, Rumpke has experienced more than 60 fire events in the Greater Cincinnati area.

The reason for the fires?

Batteries and other flammable materials improperly placed in trash and recycling bins.

“We are understandably nervous,” Brad Dunn, Cincinnati recycling facility manager, said. “Our recycling facility was destroyed in a fire in 2012, and we are trying to ensure our current facility doesn’t meet the same fate.”

Batteries aren’t accepted in Rumpke’s recycling program, and only alkaline batteries can be placed in the trash. There are retail establishments that will accept batteries for recycling, and some solid waste districts offer additional recycling options.

“The danger actually starts when the collection truck compacts the material,” said Kendra Catherman, region safety manager. “When a battery is compacted it can ignite, causing vehicle fires. These have become an almost weekly occurrence for our team to contend with.”

Catherman said batteries aren’t the only items that can cause fires. Items such as hot embers, propane tanks, unspent fireworks and pool chemicals can also produce fires.

“We train our team to look for these items when collecting material curbside; however, with most material bagged, we can’t always catch these items before they enter the truck,” Catherman said. “That’s why it is so important that customers follow our curbside guidelines as well as our recycling acceptable items list.”

For a list of items that should not be placed curbside with trash as well as a list of items that Rumpke accepts in recycling, people can visit Rumpke.com. For more information on how to properly dispose of batteries and other flammable items, contact your local solid waste district.

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