Whether the world-famous procession at Lewes or one of the many other advertised firework displays in Kent and the southeast, the Environment Agency says go to an organised event and don’t be a ‘bonfire bandit’.  

It’s enjoyed by millions, but Bonfire Night can affect the climate and harm wildlife, the environment and human health if the wrong waste is burned. There’s also the safety risk. 

Only put dry, untreated and unpainted wood, small amounts of paper or cardboard on the pile. Wet wood creates smoke that spreads, causing a nuisance to neighbours, and bonfires can get out of control if not properly managed. 

Back gardens

If you are having a bonfire in the back garden, don’t use it to get rid of household waste like plastic, rubber, glass, oils and metal. They are a pollution-risk to water, air, soil and plants, animals and the countryside. Put them in your recycling or household bin instead or take them to council recycling centres.

Kevin Baker, from the Environment Agency, said: “We want people to have fun on Bonfire Night – but to do so safely and in a way that won’t create a risk to the environment, wildlife and to you and your neighbours. 

“The best way of doing that is to stop burning waste altogether and go to an organised community event, where organisers should have followed our guidelines and won’t be causing a hazard.” 


Always check the bonfire for hedgehogs and other wildlife before setting light to it, and don’t allow anyone else to add materials to your bonfire, other than clean, dry, untreated wood. 

It’s not just householders that may use Bonfire Night as a way of getting rid of rubbish.


Businesses may use the celebrations to set light to waste, but the Environment Agency urges them to know what they are burning. 

Whether a firm or household, if paying someone to take your waste away, always check they are licensed waste-carriers who’ll dispose of rubbish correctly. Criminals working in illegal waste operations may also use the celebration to destroy hazardous and inappropriate waste.

£50,000 fine

As well as the harm and nuisance burning the wrong kind of waste can cause, burning of most types of waste is illegal and can carry a fine of up to £50,000. 

Bonfires with hazardous materials

If you see a bonfire being built you think may contain hazardous materials, you can contact the Environment Agency on its 24-hour helpline at 0800 807060, or report it anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. You can check if a waste carrier is licensed: https://environment.data.gov.uk/public-register/view/search-waste-carriers-brokers  

By Ed

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