The City of Tampa has reported an increase in “hot loads,” where trash inside garbage trucks spontaneously catches fire. This has prompted officials to take action and raise awareness among residents about the proper disposal of hazardous waste.
The main culprits behind these incidents are overheating lithium-ion batteries, chemicals, cleaning solutions, propane tanks, and other electronics that are being improperly disposed of in bins, according to the City of Tampa.
As of 2023, Tampa has already experienced three cases of “hot loads,” compared to just two in the entirety of 2022.
Fire Chief Barbara Tripp expressed concern about the rising temperatures during the summer, as hazardous materials can react dangerously when mixed with other waste in garbage trucks.
Lithium-ion battery fires, in particular, produce toxic gas, create an explosive environment, and pose significant challenges for firefighters during extinguishment.
When a garbage or recycling truck driver notices a fire, they have no choice but to immediately dump the hot load on the street, as illustrated in the provided photo.
Mayor Jane Castor emphasized the collective responsibility to ensure a safe environment for everyone in the city.
She mentioned the partnership with Hillsborough County to offer an easy way for Tampa residents to dispose of batteries, electronics, and chemicals properly, keeping them out of regular trash bins.
Hillsborough County provides several hazardous waste dump sites, and Tampa residents can use these facilities free of charge by presenting a valid driver’s license as proof of City residency.
Additionally, the City of Tampa offers a user-friendly trash and recycling app to inform residents about what items can and cannot be placed in the bins.
Notably, last November, the City of Tampa informed residents about contamination levels of recycling reaching an all-time high.