Householders are being urged not to dispose of batteries in bin bags.

It comes after strong evidence suggests that a fire in Carmarthen’s Nantycaws Recycling Centre last April may have been started by a battery that was disposed of in a blue recycling bag.

The fire, which caused millions of pounds of damage, destroyed the Materials Recycling Facility (MRF) and the recycling centre was forced to close to the public for five days.

The council advises that batteries should be removed from any items that contain them such as rechargeable items, mobile phones, electric toothbrushes, toys and television remote controls,

Batteries should be disposed of separately at a recycling centre or local battery recycling point - and batteries that are difficult to remove from items can be recycled at the electrical bay at the recycling centre.

In the last five years, fires suspected or proved of being caused by Lithium Ion Batteries have more than doubled with 48% in 2021 compared to 21% in 2016/2017.

The most common inappropriate items within bin bags presented for kerbside collection by residents include electrical waste.

Such items include toasters children’s toys, hair styling equipment, separate old batteries ranging from standard cell batteries to rechargeable lithium ion batteries and mobile devices.

Carmarthenshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment, Cllr Hazel Evans said: “Thankfully no one was injured in the fire in Carmarthen’s Nantycaws Recycling Centre last year.

"Please do not put loose dead batteries or items that hold batteries in your bin bags with other rubbish, it is extremely dangerous and the consequences can be very serious.

"All our recycling centres have facilities to dispose of your batteries safely as well as many shops and supermarkets that have battery collection points.”

The batteries are initially compromised when unknowingly crew throw the bags containing electrical items into the vehicles which get compacted.

They are then transported to the MRF where they can come into contact with further materials that can result in serious consequences.

Richard Vaughan-Williams, Arson Reduction Manager at Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service added: “Lithium-ion batteries can be found in an increasing number of consumer items.

"Disposing of such items has become a growing concern, especially for our partners who operate waste management facilities.

"Even small lithium-ion batteries can present a very real danger of an intense fire which can then spread quickly.

"We advise those looking to dispose of batteries to carefully consult waste instructions from their local authority.”

Last year The Environmental Services Association launched a campaign to raise awareness of incorrectly recycling batteries.

Millions of pounds worth of damage is said to be caused by discarded batteries happens at recycling centres every year and endangers the lives of people who work in them.