A bin goes up in flames

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The demise of a waste bin – and what could be done to prevent it?

Are wastebins really useful? I mean those doubling as depositories for used cigarette ends? They’re essentially attractors. Throwing a used cigarette end inside – or poor stubbing out allowing ashes to blow inside onto the waste…

Most of Central London’s wastebins from above look a bit like a goldfish with its mouth stuck wide open….

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The big end is more obvious, more endearing so to say, and doesnt require special dexterity other than just throwing fag ends in directly or flicking ashes inside onto what is combustible waste – despite the fact there are cigarette disposal units either side of the bin – essentially the eyes of the goldfish.

I do find people just don’t care, they’re chatting/texting on the mobile whilst flicking their fag’s contents directly on some combustible waste. I mean, its easier isnt it? And any subsequent conflagration’s not their problem.

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Leicester Square ‘s bus stop: This woman was on her phone and I observed her casually flicking ash into the wastebin for quite a good bit of time. Luckily the waste doesnt often catch fire. But that’s not to say its okay.

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On my way up Charing Cross Road a bit later I observed this man doing the same. When I started to monitor his progress he became aware of my presence and just held his cigarette there flicking the ashes instead onto the pavement.

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At least this guy in Leicester Square is doing the right thing by using the intended receptacle for ciggies.

Wouldn’t it be best if all smokers were encouraged to stub out their cigarettes on the pavement or on some wall or other solid, concrete, stone surface, rather than just bin them or stub them out in a special receptacle?

We do have those little receptacles on posts that both encourage stubbing out and safe deposit of cigarette ends, but still these regularly catch fire, the most recent observation was one in Bishopsgate a couple of weeks ago.

The receptacle for cigarettes on some bins seems fragile – this is a picture of a bin outside Southwark tube station:

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Not encouraging! This is the same type as that caught fire in Southwark Street.

Is it better to throw used ends on the pavement and stamp them out? They cant do any harm on the pavement can’t they? I think its best to stub out cigarette ends with one’s shoe. Perhaps the litter laws are at fault here and people must dispose of their cigarettes ‘properly?’ If there is a special receptacle solely for cigarette ends then by all means use these but definitely not use any type of bin which accepts other forms of waste too.

And the bin itself? The one that went up in flames? How did that start… probably by the casual flicking of a cigarette into the waste. Though my pics indicates the receptacle at the top may have failed, which would be a second possible reason. In terms of the poor state of the receptacle, it would come as no surprise when one compares with the picture above.

On this day in particular I was on my way home from the Tate Modern. I arrived at Southwark Street intending to cross by the junction with Hopton Street I saw some slight smoke emanating from the nearby waste bin….

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Slight wisps of smoke are visible…. then the flames start.

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As the fire begin to rage I searched for people who could help. People ignored me because of my disability. No surprise, its a regular thing despite this supposedly modern age of awareness and equality… Ultimately I went into Dan’s store nearby. The guy was very understanding and came outside to see what was happening & phoned for the fire brigade.

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By now others were phoning for the fire brigade too…. everyone’s concerned cos the bin’s really burning like mad!

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Dan’s guy takes matters into his own hands and brings several bowls of water to put out the fire.

The brigade finally arrived to find the emergency over. No harm to anyone. Nevertheless a sombre reminder a carelessly disposed cigarette butt (or poor bin design) can have unpopular consequences.

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The same spot today – bin less.

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