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Amanda Steele, PIO

For Immediate Release

City educates against tossing hazardous materials in the trash – “Don’t risk it... know before you throw!”

Surprise, AZ (April 7, 2022) It may seem harmless to throw hazardous items into your city-serviced garbage cans, like old pool chemicals or an empty camping fuel tank, but those materials can actually start a fire in your garbage can and City garbage trucks. These fires can become dangerous quickly and put your family and our Surprise employees at risk!

Don’t risk it... know before you throw!

Everyday household materials can have hazardous properties that require special disposal methods. Don’t throw items in the trash if you see these warning words on the label - POISON, DANGER, TOXIC, WARNING, CAUTION, FLAMMABLE, or CORROSIVE.

When any of these materials combine together or mix with regular trash and then get crushed in the garbage truck’s packer, it can start a fire. Things can turn dangerous quickly because there is not much time until the garbage load catches fire. When the fire spreads, operators must be alert, think quickly and try to extinguish the load by packing it to deprive the fire of oxygen, but that does not always work. As a last resort, there is a complete dump of the trash load, where safe; a call to the fire department, and a cleanup process. In Surprise, an incident involving a hazardous waste fire caused more than $40,000 in damage to a City garbage truck and kept the truck out of service for months.

“When people don’t properly dispose of dangerous items, it is usually because they are unaware, but we know some offenders knowingly choose to risk it, thinking it won’t do too much harm,” said Surprise Solid Waste Manager Bobby Parks. “We hope this warning reaches both groups. We need our residents to be aware of this issue so we can keep our community and our employees safe.”

The following common items have the potential to combust or even explode if they are thrown in your garbage bins:

  • All types of batteries
  • Pool chemicals
  • Pressurized cylinders (including small oxygen tanks, camping fuels and fire extinguishers)
  • Grilling coals & hot ashes 
  • Cleaning chemicals 
  • Vehicle fluids (motor oil, antifreeze and transmission fluid)
  • Flammable and combustible liquids (gasoline, lighter fluid or kerosene)
  • Garden chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer and insecticides)

Don’t throw these items in the trash! The City can come and safely take most of these items from your driveway by scheduling an appointment for a Hazardous Household Waste pickup! These events are available three times a year. Use the My Surprise App or call Public Works Customer Service at 623.222.1920 from April 6 – 14 to make an appointment for April 18- 28 pick-up. You can get more details and a full list of accepted Hazardous Household Waste items at

City of Surprise 16000 N. Civic Center Plaza Surprise, AZ 85374 | Phone: 623-222-1000