What Not to Put on Your Bonfire

What Not to Put on Your Bonfire

What Not to Put on Your Bonfire


Who doesn’t love the spectacle of fireworks and the warm glow of a bonfire? Bonfire night can be a lot of fun, and us Brits are willing to spend on it, with an estimated £300 million being spent on fireworks and party food.

But there’s a downside to the occasion; the spike in incidents of arson, people burning waste illegally, and an increase in air pollution.

What you can put on your bonfire, and what you can’t

The environment agency has reminded people that it is against the law to burn many types of waste on bonfires. People can only burn small amounts of paper, leaves, wood, and cardboard on bonfires. Many people put old furniture, mattresses, or clothing on bonfires, but it’s illegal to burn treated wood, tyres, plastic, rubber, and oil. These materials can give off fumes that damage the environment and health.

Anyone caught illegally disposing of waste on a bonfire faces a fine of up to £50,000. Bonfire night can give people an excuse to dump items like mattresses and while it may be on a bonfire, it’s still fly-tipping, which is against the law.

The Environment Agency is encouraging anyone who is organising a bonfire to make sure that any waste is stored securely before it’s burned, that the material is suitable and does not include plastic, rubber, glass, or metal, and that the size of the bonfire is appropriate for the location it’s in.

Air Pollution

Many people get rid of items like mattresses and furniture on bonfire night, and burning items like these on fires causes more damage to the environment than fly-tipping.

On bonfire night, there is more air pollution caused in one night than all the UK’s waste incinerators put together. The unbelievable amount of pollution is caused by people who burn items they shouldn’t, such as treated wood, fabrics, and chemical waste. All of these can cause harmful substances to be released into the air.

It’s not only fires that pollute, fireworks cause an increase in the amount of chemicals and metals in the air, and this can be dangerous in densely populated areas.

The best way to keep pollution levels down on bonfire night is to attend an organised event, where only safe items are burned, and safety measures are taken.

Stay safe on bonfire night

Bonfire night can be so much fun, but because fires and fireworks are inherently risky, it pays to follow some basic safety guidelines.

  • Only adults should be lighting fireworks and setting them off. Children and young people should only watch them at a distance. This goes for their disposal too
  • Plan your display to make it as safe as possible
  • Keep fireworks in a safe and secure box, and only set them off one at a time
  • Always follow the usage instructions
  • Light fireworks from a distance of at least an arm’s length, use a taper, and stand back once it’s lit
  • Don’t go back to a firework that has been lit. If it doesn’t go off, leave it for 15-20 minutes, then soak it in water to ensure it’s extinguished
  • Always direct fireworks away from people
  • Don’t use paraffin or petrol on a bonfire
  • After a bonfire, make sure it is fully extinguished and the area is safe

And finally...

Generally, people love the spectacle and fun of bonfire night, but there’ll always be a few people who spoil it. This time of year always sees a rise in wheelie bin thefts, as vandals steal them to either set them on fire or put them on a bonfire.

To prevent wheelie bin arson, don’t put your bins out for collection too early and take them back in as soon as possible after collection. Keep your bins out of sight, and behind a locked gate where you can, and don’t keep them too close to your property as they might provide access for thieves, or become a fire risk if vandals set them alight.