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Burning household waste

Introduction

It is illegal to burn household or garden waste at home or in your garden. Burning waste can be a nuisance to neighbours and can also pollute the air by releasing harmful chemicals into it.

There may be many toxic chemicals in waste items. Paper waste may contain synthetic materials, preservatives and even plastics. Disposable nappies contain gels, bleaches and plastics. Many wood products are treated with toxic chemicals to prevent rot.

Burning of such wastes in low-temperature uncontrolled fires creates toxic and dangerous by-products which are not destroyed by the fire but become airborne on soot particles. These can end up being inhaled or being washed out of the air and deposited onto surrounding soil and vegetation, where they can readily enter the food chain.

Rules

Burning household waste at home or in your garden is illegal. Burning household waste can incur a fine of up to €3,000 or 12 months in prison upon summary conviction in a District Court.

Examples of where you cannot burn household or garden waste are:

  • In a barrel or exposed pile in the yard or garden
  • On a bonfire
  • On an open fire, range or other solid fuel appliance
  • In a mini-incinerator

Waste burners and other devices such as mini or household incinerators, which may be located in buildings or gardens, are illegal even if they are attached to a stack or flue.

Burning waste is an offence under waste management legislation and the Air Pollution Act 1987. The Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) Regulations 2009 strengthen the law against waste disposal by uncontrolled burning, which is also known as backyard burning.

Under Regulation 5, there is a limited exemption for the burning of uncontaminated waste generated by agricultural practices. Under the Waste Management (Prohibition of Waste Disposal by Burning) (Amendment) Regulations 2015, this exemption will cease on 1 January 2018.

Safely disposing of waste

Most areas have an organised domestic waste collection service. If you decide not to use an organised waste collection service, you can dispose of much of your own domestic waste by recycling and home composting. You can also use civic amenity centres or landfill sites.

Your local authority can advise you on waste disposal and recycling facilities in your area.

Page edited: 25 February 2016

Language

Gaeilge

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