Auckland Council has issued a warning to residents following a spate of recycling truck fires.
The fires are blamed on hazardous waste being dumped into household recycling bins.
Likely culprits include gas cooker canisters, lighter fluid cans and a motor vehicle cam belt wrapped around a packer mechanism.
Aucklanders are cautioned to take care with what they put in their recycling bins to avoid the risk of serious harm, especially to waste contractor employees, nearby traffic and passing pedestrians.
Councillor Richard Hills, chair of the environment and climate change committee, says hazardous waste, including flammable and combustible items, should never be placed in kerbside rubbish and recycling bins.
“Because of the compacting equipment in collection truck hoppers, there is a significant chance of a fire occurring when items are crushed by the compactor,” he said.
Councillor Hills says that it has been fortunate that a more serious incident has not occurred, thanks to the vigilance of truck operators, rigid safety protocols that are in place if a fire occurs, and the rapid responses from Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Last month, recycling truck fires were reported in Ōtara, Lynfield and Sunnynook.
In the Lynfield incident, a full load of recyclables caught fire in a truck and had to be emptied out in a nearby parking lot so that firefighters could gain control of the smoking debris. The cause of the blaze could not be identified but around six tonnes of recyclable materials had to be uplifted from the site and trucked to landfill.
Kerbside recycling bins are designed for paper and cardboard, and household containers made from plastic, glass, steel, and aluminium.