New campaign to dispose of single use barbecues in Dorset forever

While Swanage’s Co-op has restocked disposable barbecues for the summer, Southern Co-op, a separate retailer in Dorset has banned them for good and is recycling its old stock.

With help from Litter Free Dorset, Dorset Council and its recycling contractor W and S Recycling, 8,000 single use barbecues that were removed from the shelves of Southern Co-op in 2022, will be recycled and the charcoal briquettes donated to Swanage Railway.

Disposable barbecue causing grass to burn
Wareham Fire Station

Many don’t realise until it’s too late that putting a disposable barbecue directly onto the grass will burn it

Barbecues at Wareham fire
DW Fire and Rescue

The disposable barbecues found at the scene of the Wareham Forset fire in 2020

Wildfires, scorched grass and beach injuries

Litter Free Dorset is campaigning to stop the sale of all disposable barbecues due to the risk they pose if they are used and abandoned, including causing wildfires, scorched grass, and beach injuries.

The devastating impact that a discarded used disposable barbecue can cause to the environment was vividly illustrated when a fire destroyed 220 hectares of Wareham Forest in 2020. Every year since then, there have been wildfires in Purbeck where it’s believed that a disposable barbecue was the cause of the blaze.

Most recently in August 2022, a fire destroyed a large area of National Trust owned heathland on the Studland peninsula, which is home to some of the most rare reptiles and insects in the UK including the sand lizard.

At the time, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service reported that it had found evidence of a camp fire and barbecue at the seat of the fire and believed that to be the cause.

Swanage co-op

The Co-op in Swanage has restocked disposable barbecues for summer 2023

Calling on all retailers to stop selling disposable barbecues

Litter Free Dorset is calling on all retailers to show that they take their commitment to the environment seriously and stop selling disposable barbecues.

The campaign group has been holding meetings with all supermarkets, leading to some success with a number of retailers including Aldi, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and Southern Co-op removing disposable barbecues from their shelves. Locally in Swanage, Budgens, Costcutters and Nixons all stopped selling the item sometime ago.

The Co-op in Swanage is the only town centre retailer still to sell disposable barbecues, although it did remove them from sale in August 2022 following the Studland heath fire. New stock of disposable barbecues was back on the shelves in April 2023.

Aerial view of Studland fire
Studland Heath fire
Swanage Fire Station

Studland heath fire in 2022 – Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue service believes it was started by a camp fire or barbecue

“Grave danger to Dorset’s natural environment”

Litter Free Dorset coordinator, Emma Teasdale said:

“Disposable barbecues pose a grave danger to Dorset’s natural environment and wildlife; they are also single use and incredibly wasteful. Of course we want people to enjoy their summer and make the most of our beautiful county, but this should not be at the cost of the environment.

“We are asking people to make the change by avoiding single-use items including disposable barbecues, and to look for reusable alternatives.”

Swanage railway and co-op

Swanage Railway steam locomotive pulling out of Swanage station opposite the Co-op

Charcoal briquettes will be donated to Swanage Railway

Having permanently removed disposable barbecues from sale, Southern Co-op wanted to dispose of them responsibly. Now Litter Free Dorset and Dorset Council’s recycling contractor W and S Recycling are taking on the challenge of recycling the product that is not easy to recycle and almost impossible to do so after use.

The plastic sleeves, paper liners, and cardboard outer trays will be processed with household recycling; the metal grill sheet and foil trays will go to W and S’ scrap metal site, and the six tonnes of charcoal briquettes are being donated to Swanage Railway for use on its steam trains.

Southern Co-op disposable BBQs
Litter Free Dorset

The Southern Co-op barbecues waiting to be recycled

“Part of our longstanding commitment to reduce our impact on the environment”

Chief executive of Southern Co-op, Mark Smith said:

“Sadly we have witnessed the devastating impact that disposable barbecues can have to both people and wildlife if they are not disposed of responsibly.

“Removing them from sale was an important move to protect our local wildlife and ecosystems as part of our longstanding commitment to reduce our impact on the environment.

“However, we also needed to be able to dispose of them responsibly, so it’s thanks to Litter Free Dorset and a host of dedicated volunteers, this is going to be made possible. Thank you.”

The Co-op retailer which owns the Swanage branch says that it has removed disposable barbecues from its shops which are within or near designated National Parks.

Further information

  • More about Litter Free Dorset’s BBQ campaign is on its website

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