Rumpke Recycling has reported a record number of fires at its Columbus facility.
The Ohio based company said the uptick is due to residents trying to recycle items they should not, like lithium batteries and propane tanks.
Those items if heated or damaged and combined with flammable items like paper and cardboard can catch fire.
In total so far the company has had 19 fires in 2019.
“We have had more fires this year, so far, than we had last year all together,” Gayana Makaryan, Communications Director with the company said. Most of the fires happened on the machines in the last two months, “We see this spike especially during this time of year because people are going camping, they are cleaning things out, they are grilling,” Makaryan added.
It’s not just lithium batteries, it’s also propane tanks and pool chemicals, “those items are really dangerous,” Makaryan said.
The company attempts to filter out the dangerous items, and pulls up to 80 a week from the line, but are not always successful.
The fires come at a time when Rumpke recently invested half a million dollars in new equipment, amid uneasiness in the industry.
Other states have had to export or burn their recycling materials after
China changed what materials they were willing to import. Rumpke has not been forced to make such drastic moves, and remain recycling all items regionally.
No one has been hurt, and the company wants to keep it that way, “All of that pales in comparison to the safety of our employees, we want to keep them safe,” Makaryan added.
Rumpke will take mixed plastic, jugs, cartons, mixed paper, metal cans, glass and cardboard.
For lithium batteries and cellphones the company recommends contacting the maker of the product, or many big box stores like Lowes and Home depot. You can learn more at https://www.rumpke.com/recycling