Dorset campaign boosted as some Co-op stores stop sale of barbecues

Litter Free Dorset says it’s ‘redoubling’ its efforts to get disposable barbecues removed from all shops as Southern Co-op with 16 stores across Dorset announced it would no longer stock them.

With the tinder dry weather conditions continuing, the campaign group is calling on all retailers to do the ‘right thing’ to protect Dorset’s wildlife and open spaces due to the greatly increased risk of fire.

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Barbecue sign

Landowners across Purbeck have banned the use of barbecues including the National Trust

No sign of any rain

The Met Office says that temperatures in Swanage and across Dorset will rise again this week, peaking on Friday 12th and Saturday 13th August 2022, with no sign of any rain in the forecast.

Litter Free Dorset has been holding meetings with all supermarkets, leading to some success with a number of retailers removing disposable barbecues from their shelves.

Disposable barbecue causing grass to burn
Wareham Fire Station

Disposable barbecues easily scorch grass

“Important move to protect our local wildlife and ecosystems”

Southern Co-op’s chief executive Mark Smith said:

“We have had a longstanding commitment to reduce our impact on the environment. We’ve taken this additional step, to completely remove disposable barbecues from sale in all our 199 managed stores, to play our part in addressing the impacts of the extraordinarily dry conditions across the south.

“We hope our members and customers will support this important move to protect our local wildlife and ecosystems.”

Budgens in Station Road

Budgens in Swanage is one of the latest supermarkets to remove disposable barbecues from its shelves

“Our campaign… is gaining momentum”

In Swanage, Budgens and Costcutter have stopped selling the item, however the Swanage Co-op, which is not part of the Southern Co-op group, continues to sell and promote the item.

A spokesperson from Litter Free Dorset said:

“Litter Free Dorset is redoubling its efforts calling on all retailers to do the right thing and completely remove disposable barbecues from sale, to protect Dorset’s wildlife and open spaces during this hot summer due to the greatly increased risk of fire.

“The risk is clear: in the period from 1st May to 31st July this year, 79 heathland fires were attended by Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, up from 41 fires during the same period in 2021 – an increase of 93%.

“Our campaign to stop the sale of disposable barbecues is gaining momentum, with the recent announcement that Southern Co-op has stopped selling disposable barbecues completely from all its Co-operative Food convenience stores.

“They join Waitrose, Aldi and M&S who have already removed disposable barbecues from sale, along with other retailers who have removed them from selected stores. But we won’t stop there.

“We are now directly asking all retailers to remove them from all stores in Dorset.”

Firefighters extinguishing fire at Worgret Heath
Wareham Fire station

Firefighters recently extinguish a blaze caused by a disposable barbecue at Worgret Heath near Wareham

“In this very dry weather bring a picnic not a barbecue”

Over the last month, both Swanage and Wareham Fire Stations have been called out to extinguish disposable barbecues that have been lit on local beaches and heathland.

On Friday 29th July 2022 Swanage Fire Station reported:

“On our return home across the ferry we found some people having barbecues in banned areas which we extinguished before returning home.”

Wareham Fire Station on Tuesday 2nd August 2022 said:

“One fire engine was sent to East Stoke to some barbecues being used on a dry grass field. The barbecues were quickly extinguished. Remember in this very dry weather bring a picnic not a barbecue.”

Two days later on Thursday 4th August 2022 Wareham Fire Station reported:

“One fire engine and the Uni Mogg was sent to a fire in the middle of Worgret Heath. Sadly this was found to be caused by a disposable barbecue. Please can everybody dispose of barbecues in the correct way.”

Disposable Barbecues
Wareham Fire station

These disposable barbecues being used on dry grass at East Stoke were extinguished by Wareham Fire station

Litter Free Dorset arguments against disposable barbecues

  • Disposable barbecues can be disposed of irresponsibly which can result in wildfire, with devastating environmental, social and economic impact.
  • Disposable barbecues are single use and non-recyclable, destined for landfill or incineration. They are unsustainable as they contain charcoal which is often from unsustainable sources, contributing to deforestation.
  • Disposable barbecues pose a considerable safety risk to beach users, often being left under sand or littered and causing serious injury.
Heath fire at Stoborough
Swanage Fire Station

It’s not just disposable barbecues – A portable barbecue caused this damage to Stoborough Heath in June 2022

“Vital that everyone takes responsibility for this issue”

The campaign group added:

“It is important to remember that disposable barbecues are not the only thing posing a risk this summer – cigarette butts, campfires, bonfires, and open fires of any kind are equally dangerous and can cause serious harm to our heathlands and open spaces.

“This risk only increases with the prolonged hot and dry weather we are experiencing, so it is vital that everyone takes responsibility for this issue.”

Further information

  • More about Litter Free Dorset’s 2022 BBQ campaign and the full list of stores that have removed disposable barbecues from sale, is on its website

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