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by Craig Pryce January 29, 2021

Our wheelie bins are able to withstand very high temperatures but lesser-made bins are not; however, even ours have their limits when it comes to fire.

In this blog post, we’ll take a look at what causes wheelie bin fires and how they can best be avoided.

Why are wheelie bin fires bad?

Wheelie bin fires can be truly devastating — not only will the bin itself be destroyed but these fires very easily spread to nearby homes and properties.

Human casualties and fatalities are both possible outcomes of a bin fire.

On top of this, toxic fumes and smoke are released, which will pollute the environment and potentially cause health issues.

Then, in addition to all of the above, even small bin fires will cost you money as you’ll need to replace your bin.

What causes wheelie bin fires?

A green wheelie bin burnt after a fire

Wheelie bin fires aren’t common as it usually takes some effort to set one on fire. However, fires do happen and so it’s important to be aware of how.

The most common causes are arson and accidental fires.

Often, a wheelie bin fire arsonist doesn’t intend to cause damage beyond the wheelie bin — most are passers by engaging in anti-social behaviour and setting fire to some rubbish for fun.

However, these fires often escalate to cause some or all of the issues mentioned above.

In 2019, a new craze swept the country which involved teenagers setting fire to wheelie bins in order to inhale the resulting fumes.

An empty wheelie bin made from HDPE would release a combination of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide — both of which are terrible for human health and the environment.

Of course, some of these fires aren’t put out and they then pose an even greater risk.

Wheelie bin fire safety

burnt and melted wheelie bin after fire

When it comes to wheelie bin fire safety, there are several points to consider and action.

Firstly, don’t ever place hot items inside your bins — for example, hot coals, embers or ash, or any smoking materials. If you need to dispose of these items, wait until they are fully cooled before they are placed in the bin.

Secondly, you should store your wheelie bins out of sight. This can be tricky in some built-up areas but, where possible, please store your wheelie bins behind locked gates or in locked storage. It would also be beneficial to store them away from your property.

When deciding where to store your bins, be mindful of access and escape routes and don't block them.

On the subject of locks, you might wish to consider adding a wheelie bin lock to your bins — your local council or waste management company may be able to provide these. Alternatively, we stock triangular wheelie bin locks on our site.

Only place your wheelie bins outside on collection day and aim to bring them in as soon as possible afterwards, to reduce the risk of tampering.

Likewise, don’t overfill your bins or place rubbish bags next to them, as this could be tempting to those with a lighter in their pocket.

If you are always producing more waste than will comfortably fit in your wheelie bins, then you either need to reduce the amount of waste you produce or speak to your local authority or waste management company about the possibility of an extra bin.

To prevent fire in general, ensure you have smoke alarms fitted throughout your home and business premises and check their function regularly.

Free home fire safety visits are available around the country so get in touch with your local fire and rescue service to find out more. These visits include checking your home for risks and making a fire escape plan for if the worst was to happens.


Craig Pryce

Craig Pryce

With over 17 years of experience in the waste and recycling industry, Craig is passionate about making recycling easier and reducing the negative impact of litter. He has been the managing director of Wheelie Bin Solutions (WBS) since January 2016, and prides the company on his expert knowledge, top-quality products, and customer service. His proudest moment was when WBS supported the 2012 Olympic Games, working in partnership with Contenur UK to supply over 9000 bin containers to all Olympic venues. Craig is always keen to share his knowledge, so whether you need advice about the benefits of a wheelie bin lock, or ideas for alternative uses for your wheelie bin, Craig will ensure your recycling and waste disposal habits are gold medal worthy.