Photo: Freepik

City Of Prague Encourage Residents to Safely Dispose of Spray Cans in Regular Waste to Mitigate Explosion Risks

In recent years, the people of Prague have learned to consistently sort metal packaging, yet other kinds of waste which do not belong there still sometimes end up in grey containers. Above all, small pressure containers, such as various flammable sprays, gas cartridges and tourist stoves, complicate the sorting and processing of waste in the city. If they explode, they can cause damage to the collection equipment or the sorting line, or danger to people nearby. For this reason, the City of Prague is running a campaign to inform citizens that “used sprays belong in mixed waste”.

Small spray cans for everyday use, including hairsprays, deodorants, air fresheners, repellents, and protective gases are often mistakenly thrown half-empty into metal waste containers, along with gas cartridges or tourist stoves. However, they should not in fact be placed in this bin; the above-mentioned containers have a fire symbol on them, indicating flammable gas, aerosol, liquid, or vapour, which must not be heated, mechanically damaged, punctured or used near fire. 

Breaking these rules can have fatal consequences. On 20 October 2023, in the premises of Prague Services on Pod Šancemi, a large amount of unemptied spray had accumulated in the metal packaging press, connected to the sorting line. Although these were small vessels under pressure, there was an explosion and subsequent fire. 

“The damaged line was out of service for almost a month, the damage is in the order of hundreds of thousands of crowns,” said the CEO of Prague Services, Patrik Roman. “The important thing is that fortunately nothing serious happened to any of the citizens or our workers. In the entire four years that we have been operating the line, a similarly serious incident has never happened.” 

Shortly after, the City of Prague started communicating information about this topic to the public, and at the same time tightening measures to prevent similar situations. “In order to prevent similar accidents in the future, line workers, for example, are now taking out flammable sprays manually, thus contributing to reducing the risks of another explosion. A similar event must not happen again. Protecting the health of employees must come first,” said Jana Komrsková, Deputy Mayor for the Environment and Climate Plan. 

“In cooperation with Prague Services, we are also launching a campaign with the slogan: Used sprays belong in mixed waste! In this way, we make it clear to the citizens where to dispose of this type of waste properly,” she added.

Prague Services are appealing to citizens to proceed with caution when sorting pressure vessels, to remember safety and to know exactly what they are throwing away. Unemptied small sprays belong in the black bin for mixed municipal waste, from where they will be processed without any problems and sent to ZEVO Malešice, where they will not cause any damage.

“Containers with compressed gases are very dangerous because of the high pressure inside,” added Alexandr Komarnický, spokesman for Prague Services. ”Under the influence of heat or damage, they can explode, causing serious injuries and damaging equipment, which sometimes happens with sprays with residual content.” On the contrary, completely empty spray cans can be thrown away in grey metal containers.

The new campaign draws attention to the risk of explosion and fire if unemptied flammable sprays are incorrectly sorted. The outdoor part will feature adverts on urban furniture and public transport, complemented by animations on DCLV, leaflets, posters, texts in the newsletters of the city districts and others. The online campaign will focus on social networks, websites and city portals, including banners. There will also be a spot campaign on the radio, information in the press and mentions in the media in general.

A specialised sorting line has been operating in the Vysočany premises of Prague Services since 2019. However, small pressure vessels are dealt with differently in other Czech cities. In Pilsen, Olomouc and Zlín, for example, there is no sorting line for metal packaging, therefore the risk of possible explosion of sprays is eliminated. Citizens there can throw hairspray, deodorants and other sprays into classic grey containers, where they are processed by external contractors. In Brno, metal can be thrown in the yellow container together with plastic and beverage cartons. According to SAKO Brno, there are only a small number of pressurised vessels in the yellow bins, and they have not had any problems with them catching fire.

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