ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – After two solid waste trucks burned to the ground this year, the City of Albuquerque is making a public plea for residents to stop putting flammable and hazardous garbage in trash and recycle bins. Since last July, the city’s Solid Waste Department says there have been at least seven truck fires.

Two of those fires happened this month, in June 2022. Fortunately, so far, no one has been hurt as a result of the truck fires according to the city’s Solid Waste Department, which does most of the trash and recycling pick-up in the metro-area.

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“Trash fires are usually caused by household hazardous waste, flammable liquids fluids, things that are combustible like batteries. Those things should never go into your garbage container,” said Matthew Whelan, Director of Solid Waste for the City of Albuquerque.

The latest truck fire was from someone throwing out an oxygen tank earlier this month. 2 of the seven trucks that caught fire were destroyed. Those trucks can cost up to $300,000.

“Please help us keep the city of Albuquerque clean. We have a website that gives you an idea of what we do recycle and what’s proper on the recyclables and just inform yourself,” said Jose Aragon, a Solid Waste Driver for the City of Albuquerque.

So how can you help? There some simple things everyone can do to make sure their garbage or recycling won’t cause the neighborhood collection truck to erupt in flames. The first step is recognizing that not everything belongs in the trash, and there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t recyclable at the curbside either (despite the fact there might be a little recycle symbol on it.)

Here’s what should never go in a trash or recycle bin:

  • Flammable or combustible liquids, like gasoline, oil-based paints, or kerosene.
  • Hazardous materials, including ammonia, bleach, pool chemicals, pesticides, paint thinners, etc.
  • Cylinders (usually made of metal) with compressed, pressurized gas inside, like oxygen, propane, helium, acetylene, or fire extinguishers.
  • Rechargeable batteries, which contain heavy metals like lithium, nickel cadmium, or lead-acid.
  • Ashes from fireplaces, fire pits, or barbeque grills.
A compressed gas canister involved in a recent fire inside an Albuquerque solid waste truck. (Courtesy: CABQ)

Don’t know where to take your hazardous materials? There is at least one free option that the city contracts with in the North Valley. Advanced Chemical Transport (ACT) will take “household hazardous waste” at no charge, according to the Solid Waste Department.

ACT is located at 6173 Edith NE (on the west side of the road, just south of Osuna, north of Montaño.) The collection service is open to the public on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. It’s also open on over the weekend, on Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

According to the City, the following items will be accepted at ACT:

  • Paints
  • Fertilizers
  • Cleaners
  • Insecticides
  • Pool chemicals
  • Used motor oil
  • Car batteries

However, ACT will not accept:

  • Explosives or ammunition
  • Compressed gases
  • Radioactive waste
  • Biomedical waste
  • Business generated waste
  • Non-hazardous waste
  • Prescription medicine
  • Electronics / E-waste
  • Appliances
  • Tires

For a complete list on where to take other items, visit this solid waste website.