Rumpke: Stop throwing away batteries

Rumpke is urging folks not to dispose of batteries, which are sparking fires in landfills and in their centers. GREG LYNCH/FILE

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Rumpke is urging folks not to dispose of batteries, which are sparking fires in landfills and in their centers. GREG LYNCH/FILE

Multiple fires sparked by items that do not belong in collection bins.

More than 60 fires have happened at an area Rumpke recycling facility since January, and officials there are asking the public to stop putting them in the trash.

This week alone there were nine small fires there, Rumpke said. Batteries and other flammable items improperly placed in trash and recycling containers are the root cause, the waste collection company said.

“We are understandably nervous,” said Brad Dunn, Cincinnati Recycling Facility Manager. “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.”

In most of the incidents, “all the safeguards in the plant detected the fires quickly and no major damage was incurred,” Rumpke said in a news release.

“We are working to improve our processes at the plant to catch batteries before they cause major damage; however, we need help preventing these items from coming into the facility.” Dunn said.

Most cities and townships in Butler County contract with Rumpke for trash and recycling collection.

Rumpke’s recycling program does not accept batteries, and as far as the trash goes, only alkaline batteries may go there.

Butler County residents can take batteries to Cohen in Hamilton or Middletown, and Batteries Plus Bulbs, according to the Butler County Recycling & Solid Waste District.

“Millions of people depend on our recycling facility to process their material,” Dunn said. “If we would lose this facility, it could prevent many communities and businesses from being able to recycle.”

“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 added that other “hot” or potentially hazardous items also should be avoided such as hot embers, propane tanks, unspent fireworks and pool chemicals, which 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. 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, visit Rumpke.com.

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