Dispose of Garden Waste

Can you burn garden waste?

If the garden waste bin is full, and driving to the tip is not possible, then it might be tempting to light a bonfire outside and burn it. 

It’s not illegal to have a bonfire on your premises if you are burning garden waste, but there are laws around the effects of the smoke in terms of its smell and ash. 

Under the Environmental Protection Act, this could be classified as a statutory nuisance, if it causes distress or inconvenience to your neighbours. 

They also need to be carefully planned and managed. There is an added risk of them going wrong and causing uncontrollable fires if they are not watched carefully. 

If you are intending on having a fire to burn your garden waste, then it is highly recommended that you familiarise yourself with the current guidance outlined by your local safety authorities and environmental regulations. 

What legislation and laws are in place for burning garden waste?

Simply put, you cannot burn any garden waste that will cause direct pollution or harm people. 

  • Under the Environmental Protection Act (1990), it is an offence to dispose of waste that causes pollution to the environment or harms human health, including burning. Certain types of waste will cause excessive amounts of dark, thick smoke when burnt and therefore these should be avoided. 
  • Under section 161A of the Highways Act (1980), you cannot allow smoke from a fire to drift across a nearby road. You will be liable for a fine if it poses a danger to traffic or causes injury to others. 
  • Under the Clean Air Act (1993), you are liable for prosecution if you burn substances that then create noxious fumes or dark smoke. 

If bonfires and the burning of garden waste are repeatedly bothersome for neighbours, and you receive multiple complaints to the local council, then it will be treated as a public nuisance. This can result in you receiving an abatement notice. Failure to comply with this could result in a fine of up to £5,000. 

What can you not burn in your garden waste?

The burning of some garden waste items is strictly prohibited.

This may include items such as:

  • Painted or treated wood 
  • Plastic
  • Polystyrene 
  • Aerosoles 
  • Rubber 
  • Old canisters or anything containing oil (such as paint)

You should also avoid burning garden waste that is damp and/or very green. This produces excessive smoke when burnt and will be more problematic to manage. 

You should also not use any type of fire accelerant on the bonfire as this will increase the chance of it getting out of control and unnecessarily spreading fumes. 

It is also worth noting that you are not allowed to burn waste from other households (e.g. waste from your neighbour) or from trade/business. If you wish to do this, then you will need to apply for an environmental permit

How can you burn garden waste appropriately? 

If you are considering burning your garden waste, then you should think about how it will affect people in your neighbourhood. 

It would be wise to avoid burning at weekends, public holidays or if the weather is pleasant as people will more than likely be in their gardens or hanging out their washing to dry. 

You should also speak with your neighbours to find out a suitable time to do it, allowing them time to prepare by getting their washing in and closing their windows. It will also prevent any unnecessary 999 calls if they witness a fire in your garden. 

We would strongly recommend finding an alternative way to dispose of your garden waste to avoid any neighbourly disputes or unnecessary confrontations. 

What time of the day can I burn garden waste?

There are no set times of the day where you are permitted to burn your garden waste. 

Technically, you can do it whenever you like. However, it is advisable to choose a time of day that is likely to be less disruptive to your neighbours. 

You should also take into account other factors such as:

  • How windy it is and the direction it is blowing. 
  • Whether your neighbours have their washing out/are likely to. 
  • How hot it is and whether your neighbours are likely to be out enjoying their garden/have windows open. 
  • Whether your neighbours have anything on (such as a garden party). 

This will help minimise the disruption caused and reduce the negative side effects of burning. 

What are the alternatives to burning garden waste?

There are certainly a number of ways of disposing of your garden waste, most of which are more environmentally friendly than burning it. 

Use local tips and recycling centres 

Rather than causing pollution and unnecessary disruption to your neighbours, you can take your garden waste to the tip, providing you have the time, strength and appropriate vehicle to transport it. 

Use local council waste collection 

Alternatively, you can organise a garden collection service from your local council. Similar to your general waste collection, you can be provided with a garden waste bin that you fill up and they will collect periodically. 

It is worth noting that there are a number of garden waste items that cannot be disposed of in a garden waste bin, including soil, timber, ceramics and plastics. So it would be worth checking with your local council first about what you can and cannot put in them. 

You may need to dispose of the permitted items, such as grass, leaves and cuttings, in your garden waste bin, and then book a separate soil removal service, for the material(s) you cannot put in your bin. 

Use a professional waste collection company 

Or you could save yourself all the hassle and organise for a professional waste collection company like RecycleZone to come in and take away all of your waste in one go. 

We will offer you same day garden waste removal services, meaning you do not need to wait for the council to come and pick up your waste. 

Contact us today for a free, no obligation quote. We offer waste disposal services across the UK so you will never be too far for us. Plus, we never charge for call out so you can be safe in the knowledge that our quotes are fair and excellent value for money. 

We have a fully vetted and trusted team of professionals with years of experience, so you really are in safe hands. 

This method is far more efficient, saving you time and stress of taking it to the tip yourself or waiting for the council. 

Please do not hesitate to get in touch if you want to know more about us and the services we can offer you.  Or alternatively you can visit our FAQ page

No job is too big or too small; it’s all about what works best for you.