Fire at Bedfordshire WEEE recycler starts during battery processing

Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) reprocessor Pure Planet Recycling says a fire at its site in the Bedfordshire village of Cardington began as they were processing batteries.

The fire service said the blaze broke out in the single storey, multioccupancy commercial premises on Cople Road, Cardington

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service told letsrecycle.com it was called out at just after 10am on 25 May to a commercial building fire on Cople Road.

The fire service said the blaze broke out in the single storey, multioccupancy commercial premises which measured approximately 60m by 30m. Pure Planet Recycling said the blaze affected two storage units and at least one adjacent business.

Appliances from Ampthill, Bedford, Dunstable, Kempston and other counties, including a water carrier from Kempston, an incident command unit from Leighton Buzzard and a special operations team support unit from Potton, attended the scene. Police and ambulance services also attended.

Crews used three main jets, an aerial platform, three water carriers, a high-volume pump, and clay mats to extinguish the fire.

Crews later re-inspected the premises at 10pm on the same day, the fire service said, and were satisfied the blaze was out.

No-one was hurt, though the fire service says the building is “entirely damaged by smoke and fire”.

Despite cancelling some collections from customers, Pure Planet Recycling has continued to operate from the site, as it says less than half its processing capacity was affected.

A formal investigation into the fire’s cause is now underway.


Simon Ockenden, Pure Planet Recycling’s business development manager, said the company had been processing batteries “as usual”, following the same procedures it always did.

Pure Planet Recycling said they were “extremely grateful” for the speed and professionalism of the emergency services’ response

A fire then broke out within the processing unit and Mr Ockenden said it took “less than a minute” for the building to catch light.

Mr Ockenden said there were only three people in the building at the time, each of whom followed procedures under the company’s fire prevention plan to the letter.

“We’re convinced that the response to the incident at the time saved lives,” he said. “All our staff have been fantastic and came back in yesterday.

“We cancelled a couple of collections to give us space to regroup, but otherwise we’ve carried on.”

He added: “If I have one message, it is just to be as diligent as you possibly can and ensure procedures are followed.”

The Environment Agency visited the site following the fire, Mr Ockenden said, and were “happy things were done in the right way.”

Mr Ockenden also thanked the fire service and said the company had had significant support from the village. “Everyone around the incident was fantastic and the kindness of strangers was amazing,” he said.


Formed in 2007, Pure Planet Recycling offers businesses in England a WEEE recycling collection service. The company says it collects and recycles all types of electrical waste, combined with specialist data destruction on IT equipment.

Mr Ockenden said the fire was the first major incident the company had suffered in nearly 15 years at the Cardington site, Pure Planet Recycling’s sole facility.

In a statement, Pure Planet Recycling said: “Pure Planet Recycling are extremely grateful for the speed and professionalism of the emergency services’ response.

“We are very proud of our site team whose swift action played a major part in ensuring everyone’s safety by closely following their training in our detailed fire procedures.

“Extensive investigations are now underway to establish the cause and effects of the fire. Until those proceedings are fully completed, Pure Planet Recycling will not be making further public comment on the details of the incident.”

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