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.
Burning and the Law
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 2020 strengthen the law against waste disposal by uncontrolled burning, which is also known as backyard burning.
Burning of Agricultural Waste
From the 30th November 2023 it is no longer permissible to burn uncontaminated waste generated by Agricultural Practices. Guidance on best practices for the Agricultural Sector in the sustainable management of Agricultural Green Waste in Ireland is available here.
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.