Rubbish Truck Fires Cause from Lithium Batteries on the Rise

We’ve got a bit of a pressing issue on our hands that’s been heating up quite literally about our rubbish truck in New Zealand.

Lithium batteries are everywhere these days – from our smartphones and laptops to electric scooters and power tools. They’re compact, rechargeable, and powerful, making them incredibly handy. However, these same qualities can turn dangerous when these batteries end up in the wrong place: our rubbish bins.

You see, lithium batteries are prone to overheating, and if they’re damaged or improperly disposed of, they can catch fire. When these batteries get mixed in with household rubbish, they pose a serious risk to our rubbish collection and processing systems. The result? An alarming increase in rubbish truck fires.

Why Are Rubbish Trucks at Risk?

Rubbish trucks compact waste to make collection more efficient. Unfortunately, this compacting process can crush lithium batteries, causing them to short-circuit and ignite. It’s not just a nuisance; it’s a serious safety hazard for our waste management workers and a costly issue for councils across the country.

In the past year alone, several incidents of truck fires have been reported, leading to significant damage and disruption. These fires not only endanger lives but also result in the loss of expensive equipment and vehicles.

What Can We Do?

So, what’s the solution? The key lies in proper disposal. Here are a few tips to ensure we’re all doing our part to keep our rubbish trucks safe:

1. Recycle Batteries Properly:

Many local councils and electronics stores offer battery recycling programs. Make use of these facilities instead of tossing batteries in the bin.

    For guidance on where to dispose of these items safely and in many cases, for free, visit

    2. Check for Drop-off Points:

    : There are specific drop-off points for electronic waste, including batteries, across New Zealand. A quick search online or a call to your local council can point you in the right direction.

    3. Store Used Batteries Safely:

    If you need to store used batteries before recycling them, keep them in a cool, dry place, and tape the terminals to prevent any accidental short-circuiting.


    1. Why are lithium batteries a fire hazard when thrown in the rubbish?

    Lithium batteries can overheat, especially if they’re damaged or improperly disposed of. When these batteries are compacted in rubbish trucks, they can short-circuit and ignite, causing fires.

    2. Can I throw small lithium batteries in the rubbish if they’re fully discharged?

    No, even small or fully discharged lithium batteries should not be thrown in the rubbish. They still pose a fire risk and should be recycled properly.

    3. Are there any safe ways to store used lithium batteries before recycling them?

    Yes, if you need to store used lithium batteries before recycling them, keep them in a cool, dry place. Taping the terminals with non-conductive tape can help prevent any accidental short-circuiting.

    4. What should I do with my old lithium batteries?

    Old lithium batteries should be taken to designated recycling centres or drop-off points. Many local councils and electronics stores offer battery recycling programs specifically designed to handle these types of hazardous materials.

    Vapes can be recycled through most shops that sell them or through

    Bunnings also offers a free battery take-back service. For more information on its national battery recycling programme, visit

    Selected Mitre 10 stores also offer a battery take-back service, including car batteries.

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