Phil Hales, an assistant chief fire officer with West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, has called upon fire chiefs, government and the recycling industry to have an open debate about how to tackle the growing number of recycling site fires.
He said the law governing waste storage is outdated, branding the current rules for waste storage sites as “more than 30 years out of date”. He said the fire service wants new minimum standards set out for the storage of plastics, paper and cardboard, which are often kept in bulk on industrial sites in built-up areas.
“Recycling is now “big business”, which has consequently led it to a “massive increase” in recycling sites and the law now needs to be modernised to reflect those changes”
Hales said that recycling is now “big business”, which has consequently led it to a “massive increase” in recycling sites and the law now needs to be modernised to reflect those changes.
Senior firefighters warned that the increase in recycling site fires is a “drain on resources” after almost 20 separate have been tackled in the West Midlands alone since January.
The Recycling Association has said there is “no magic answer” to tackling the problem.
Simon Ellin, chief executive of the Recycling Association said there had been “an extraordinary spate” of fires following a very dry period of weather, with seemingly no single set of causes or solutions.
In July, a Chinese lantern was blamed for igniting 10,000 tonnes of plastic bales stored at a huge open-air site in Smethwick and was labelled the largest blaze the region’s fire service had ever dealt with.
A call was thereafter urged by environmentalists to ban Chinese lanterns, but the Government said that a ban would be “disproportionate”.
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