MEDIA RELEASE - Council urges residents to play their part to tackle burning issue with waste

Residents throughout the Sutherland Shire are being called upon to take greater care in disposing of hazardous waste materials after a number of serious incidents involving fires sparked in Council waste collection vehicles.

Council today launched a major community education initiative urging local residents to take greater care in disposing of hazardous waste items commonly found around the home, calling upon members of the community to ‘Do your part so fires won’t start’.

The campaign is set to not only remind local residents of most appropriate ways to dispose of hazardous materials such as spray cans, batteries, gas bottles, fuel cans, flares, hot ashes, chemicals and household products that are toxic or flammable, but also to highlight some of the often shocking consequences of including these materials for collection in their general household waste.

Sutherland Shire Mayor, Councillor Carmelo Pesce said it was vitally important that local residents took heed of the renewed safety message to minimise the risk of major damage to Council’s waste collection vehicle, potential serious injury to staff and service disruptions.

“We know that our community try to do the right thing in correctly disposing of their household waste, but it only takes one dangerous item to slip in among your general waste or recycling to cause massive consequences,” Mayor Pesce said.

“In the last two years our staff have been forced into action to deal with two major fires that had ripped through the back of their vehicles due to hazardous materials not being correctly disposed of.

“Council is proud to roll-out this comprehensive community education campaign that will hopefully remind everyone how to manage their waste and minimise the risk to the safety of our hardworking waste collection staff.”

Sutherland Shire Council Director Shire Infrastructure Peter Hazeldine said while major truck fires were not common, they still had a significant impact on the ability of Council to maintain a vital service to the community.

“We’re incredibly thankful that of the incidents that have occurred in recent years our staff have not been seriously injured, but it’s a risk we are keen for the community to help us avoid,” Mr Hazeldine said.

“Fires in our vehicles have the potential to see both our staff and our vehicles off the road for a considerable time and can greatly hamper our ability to get an essential service to our residents in a timely manner.

“Incidents like these also come at a significant cost to ratepayers – when we lose a waste collection truck to fire, the replacement cost is almost half a million dollars.

“While we educate our staff on what to do to manage the situation if a fire breaks out, it’s a risk we’d rather avoid altogether.”

As part of the campaign, residents can look forward to seeing a number of Council waste collection vehicles emblazoned with the campaign motto - ‘Do your part so fires won’t start’ – as well as some eye-catching illustrations of hazardous waste items to avoid putting out for general waste collection.

The campaign will also see informative advertisements displayed in bus shelters in Miranda, Kareela, Loftus, Cronulla, Engadine, Gymea, Caringbah, Bangor and Woolooware over the next few months, with a short educational video to be distributed online and via social media to reinforce the campaign message.

The campaign also aims to educate local residents about the correct way to dispose of hazardous waste materials including items such as spray cans, any type of batteries, gas bottles, fuel cans, flares, hot ashes, chemicals and household products that are toxic or flammable.

Residents will be reminded not to put these items in their kerbside bins or out for collection as part of a pre-booked Council clean up, with Council conducting regular free hazardous waste collection events to assist local householders in disposing of these items.

For more information on Council’s waste collection services, hazardous waste collection events of the ‘Do your part so fires won’t start,’ campaign, please visit our website via

Do your part and fires won't start