Dangers Lurking in Our Carts

"Trash truck on fire"

By Ashley Pace:

Every day, nearly 300 trash, recycling and compost trucks hit the streets of Austin to collect the City’s residential waste. While collecting every day, our sanitation workers have seen all sorts of things end up in carts that can cause serious injury to them or anyone around. These items have the potential to spontaneously combust when exposed to high temperatures or can cause severe chemical burns:

  • Live ammunition 
  • charcoal and ashes
  • paints and paint thinner, 
  • petroleum products like gas, diesel, oil, hydraulic fluid, brake fluid or grease rags
  • and pool cleaning chemicals such as chlorine or muriatic acid

If you have live ammunition, please call 3-1-1 or 512-974-2000 to be connected to the Austin Police Department for proper disposal options. 

Charcoal and ash should sit overnight or be thoroughly mixed with water until cold. After charcoal or ashes have completely cooled, wrap them in aluminum foil or put them in a metal container like a coffee can before placing them in a plastic bag and putting them in your trash cart. 

Grease or oil-soaked rags should be left to dry outside, either on a line or spread out on the ground for at least 24 hours, then placed in a separate plastic bag and into your trash cart. 

Paints, paint thinners, petroleum products, and pool chemicals should never go in your cart and should be disposed of at the Recycle & Resuse Drop-off Center for recycling. 

If you are unsure of what to do with an item you need to dispose of, use the What do I do with...  tool to find the best options and keep your sanitation workers, family, friends and the planet safe.