Press release

Keep it clean and safe this Bonfire Night

The Environment Agency is asking people who are planning on having a Guy Fawkes bonfire to make sure that they only burn small amounts of paper, leaves, wood and cardboard and the waste is kept securely before being burned.

Every year on November 5, families use old bits of furniture to build up the bonfire and stuff the Guy with scraps of used foam or old clothing.

But everyone must remember that it is llegal to burn most types of waste and setting fire to treated wood, tyres, plastics, rubber and oil can seriously harm health and pollute the environment. It is also important to prevent others from dumping illegal waste on your bonfire by keeping it secure. There are also fears that people will use Bonfire night as an excuse to burn old furniture, mattresses or even household rubbish.

If you’re organising a bonfire night this week make sure you know where the bonfire material has come from and it is suitable. If you suspect illegal activity report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

People face a fine of up to £50,000 for illegally managing waste. They are urged to read Environment Agency advice on GOV.UK to make sure they are disposing of waste on bonfires safely and legally.

The Environment Agency also wanted to remind event organisers and households they can only burn clean, non-commercial waste.

Megan Evans, for the Environment Agency in Devon and Cornwall, said :

Burning certain types of material can cause pollution and damage people’s health. We want people to enjoy themselves but the uncontrolled and excessive burning of the wrong waste can cause pollution and harm health.

We want to encourage people to make sure they dispose of their waste legally and safely, and be aware that their community bonfire could be targeted by unscrupulous waste businesses who want to find somewhere to dispose of waste, resulting in the illegal burning of commercial waste.

Organisers should ensure that they know where the bonfire material has come from and it is suitable. If anyone sees any suspicious activities they should contact us on 0800 807060 or report it anonymously to Crimestoppers.

The Environment Agency asks organisers to make sure:

  • waste is kept securely before being burned
  • the material is suitable - it may include untreated wood, branches, and small amounts of leaves, cardboard and paper; never include plastics, rubber, glass or metal
  • the size of the bonfire or campfire is appropriate