Earlier this summer, firefighters from the North Wales Fire and Rescue Service were called to three separate incidents caused by disposable barbecues in one day.

Bin fires in West Shore in Llandudno, Lon Isallt in Trearddur Bay, and an incident on the promenade in Colwyn Bay, all worked to underline what a modern menace this wasteful product truly is.

Taken in conjunction with reports from constituents that several had been left under sand to scar feet and paws, I took the unprecedented step of writing to a range of retailers, from supermarkets to hardware stores, to ask that they take a civic-minded, ecologically friendly leadership position by committing to discontinuing the sale of disposable BBQs during next year’s summer season.

As I made clear in these letters, I think that we need to look at the dangers posed in the round. As the bottom of the barbecue can get extremely hot, and with prolonged dry weather over the summer, there is potential to damage the ground.

They have also been known to spark wildfires, such as the blaze that started at Wareham Forest in Dorset in May 2020, which burned for over six days and destroyed more than 220 hectares of forest and heathland.

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These disposable products are also a potential hazard to human health at a time in which our frontline services are facing prolonged pressures.

We know that these products give off carbon monoxide when being used and continue to do so until they are completely cold. As a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas, this is a potential risk that can prevent blood from providing essential oxygen to cells, tissues, and organs.

But more than that, these products are non-recyclable in an age when we should be prioritising the circular economy. This is why I have encouraged retailers to point customers towards small, portable BBQs which are reusable, better designed to protect the surrounding environment and often hold a number of public safety features.

I must say that I have been delighted at the response to this campaign, from constituents and businesses alike. In their recent reply, Aldi has made clear that it has no further plans to sell disposable BBQs again this year and are currently reviewing their plans for next year. They have also committed to taking onboard my concerns around the environment and public health.

Meanwhile, Coop Food and Morrison’s are both ending their sale within a set radius around our National Parks, appreciating the increased risk in these areas. Both have also launched separate awareness campaigns with stakeholders, with the later including a QR code to link to a video on how to use the product responsibly.

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Whilst these interim safety measures are certainly welcome, we should be under little doubt that their work is a reactive move responding to a number of local bans that are already being enforced. I also worry that this approach fails to recognise the nature of tourism travel and the fact that these products can be easily brought in from elsewhere.

Likewise, our National Parks are not the only landscape at risk from this product. As the incidents from earlier this summer made clear, they may be used in unsuitable urban or coastal locations such as under trees or near long grass, bushes or fences which may easily catch fire. With this in mind, I hope that both will consider much broader action.

As consumers, we can always do more to review our purchasing habits and the impact on the environment. From recycling plastic containers, storing food in glass containers and swapping paper towels for reusable cotton, there are lots of little steps that the public are already taking to lessen our impact on the environment.

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But the responsibility for confronting the concerns around disposable BBQs lies with consumers and retailers, in unison. I fully recognise that an industry-wide approach across the whole of the UK would be necessary.

This is why I have started this discussion with firms so that our stores can begin to make a collective decision that is in the best interests of our environment and public safety.

Janet Finch-Saunders is the Senedd Member for Aberconwy.

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