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Lives are at risk: Recycle BC says improperly disposing of hazardous materials puts workers in harm's way

Last Updated Aug 1, 2019 at 10:35 am PDT

(Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)
Summary

Recycle BC is reminding you to dispose of hazardous items properly, citing safety concerns

According to Recycle BC, there have been at least 7 fires at major recycling centres caused by improperly disposed items

Recycling centres have seen things like bullets, bear spray canisters, propane tanks, knives, and batteries

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – How much do you consider the safety of others when recycling?

It turns out many British Columbians are improperly disposing of hazardous materials, and Recycle BC says that’s putting workers at risk.

There have been seven fires reported by major recycling contractors in packaging and paper facilities, all because people keep throwing explosive items into their blue bins.

“I think the number one message we want to be sending out to people is we need them to think before they put something that is potentially explosive or deadly into their recycling bin,” Dave Lefevre with Recycle BC says.

“We have seen a rising increase in the amount of hazardous material that’s going into the blue bin, into the recycling system, and that creates really significant issues on the back end,” he adds.

Lefevre notes throwing something like a propane tank in with your recycling can cause “a very significant explosion” or a fire, leaving someone seriously injured, or even dead.

However, it’s not just propane or butane canisters Recycle BC is worried about.

“Even something as simple as a cellphone battery — or a cellphone itself — can actually cause a fire in a recycling facility,” Lefevre says.

Workers at recycling facilities have also come across more “threatening” items in the past, including bullets.

“Earlier this month, we had a can of bear spray that was placed in the recycling system,” Lefevre explains. “A loader drove over it, it exploded and sent people to hospital. We’ve seen rounds of live ammunition placed in there, we’ve seen knives, we’ve seen needles.”

There are drop off points at recycling centres around the Lower Mainland for things like propane tanks, batteries, bear spray, and any other waste that doesn’t belong in your recycling.

Lefevre adds he doesn’t want to see more of these items in the garbage, either.

-With files from Dean Recksiedler