Following the seemingly sharp rise in the number of fires at recycling centres this summer, it is welcome news that the Chief Fire Officer’s Association (CFOA) is planning to hold a seminar at the end of the year on the prevention of fires in the waste industry.
It comes after a series of blazes including the highly publicised plastics fire at Jayplas’s Smethwick facility in July and more recently at a recycling plant in Stockport.
Images of charcoaled baled waste is not something the industry wishes to see so any guidance will aim to further reduce risk and financial loss. The Environment Agency and the Wood Recycler’s Association are also collaborating on sector specific guidance – which is good news all round. It is anticipated that different advice will be given for different materials, rather than the existing ‘one size fits all’ approach and will also focus on stack sizes and the distance between them.
With recycling such an integral part of a sustainable economy, it is imperative that waste continues to be stored in the safest way possible. Whether cardboard baling, plastic baling or paper baling, storing waste as bales, aside from the obvious space and cost benefits, is still by far the safest and most effective option. As materials are compressed, the amount of oxygen is reduced therefore rendering the bales much less combustible than loose material.
Despite this summer’s run of fires it is interesting that official figures from the Environment Agency show a reduction of nearly 30% in the number of incidents from 2007 to 2012 at waste sites. The industry should be optimistic about this and take assurance that continual improvement and regulation does indeed reap benefits in the long run.