Sainsbury’s and Tesco have halted sales of disposable barbecues amid rising alarm about their potential to spark wildfires, as large swathes of the UK suffer a lengthy dry spell.
The supermarkets are the latest to introduce a complete ban after Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and Aldi announced they will no longer stock disposable barbecues because of the potential detrimental impact they have on the environment and wildlife.
The Co-op decided to stop selling disposable barbecues in 130 stores situatedwithin a one-mile radius of national parks in June last year, while Morrisons has a similar policy. Morrisons is reportedly reviewing whether to stop selling them altogether.
Tesco changed its policy from a local ban near areas of outstanding beauty such as the New Forest to a UK-wide temporary pause on sales late on Thursday in the light of the heatwave and dry conditions. It is understood to be planning to restock disposable barbecues once weather conditions make it safe to do so.
Temperatures have climbed again this week with tinderbox conditions, after the longest dry spell since 1976, prompting the Met Office to issue its highest warning under its fire severity index.
A petition on the UK government website calling for a national ban has so far received more than 20,000 signatures. The Labour party are also calling for a complete ban on their sale. Andy Roe, London’s fire commissioner, said “urgent action” must be taken to outlaw the sale of disposable barbecues because of the “untold damage” they cause.
The barbecues are a fire risk, especially when used on dry ground, as parts of England have seen the driest weather experienced for 111 years. Drought conditions have prompted several water companies to issue hosepipe bans.
Disposable barbecues were cited as the cause of several of fires, including a serious blaze in Lickey Hills near Birmingham. Morden Hall Park in south London was also hit by a large fire after a disposable barbecue was left there, leaving a large area of the park scorched.
A Sainsbury’s spokesperson said: “As a precautionary measure we are removing from sale all disposable barbecues until further notice. Safety is our highest priority and we have made this decision due to the hot and dry weather that we are currently experiencing across the country. We will continue to closely monitor the situation and listen to customer feedback.”