Open fires cause a great deal of pollution as we have mentioned numerous times before. Open fires are inefficient, and are often used to burn things such as unseasoned wood, general waste and much more.
Around the world it’s estimated that around one billion tonnes (around the weight of around 2,500 jumbo-jets) is burnt each year through open and uncontrolled fires. When we burn wood, harmful pollutants are released including PM2.5, which can have a devastating impact on our heath.
Read more about PM2.5 here.
Wood Burning Tip – Make sure your wood is ready to burn: Dry wood produces less smoke and more heat, and so is much cleaner and better for the environment. If you’re cutting your own logs for firewood, store them in a dry area, and allow them to dry for at least 12 months, for wood like oak, this can be as long as 24 months. Before you burn, use a moisture meter so you can check the water content of the logs. They should be less than 20%. Having a too high water percentage will increase pollution, produce a poor level of heat output and cause tar to form in your chimney. It’s important you get the right level.
In the UK and other rich countries, the burning of waste usually takes place in EfWs (Energy from Waste Plants). These plants use equipment to control the burn, while producing heat and electricity.
The truth is people usually burn waste when their options are limited. In lower and middle income countries around 2 billion people don’t have their solid waste collected at all, which means they have to take responsibility for their own removal of waste. Herein lies a huge problem. With limited space to dump rubbish, and even more limited options to dispose of waste, a great deal of people resort to burning rubbish.
Wood Burning Tip – The Best Wood: Ash is thought to be one of the very best woods for burning. Ash creates a steady flame and a good heat output. Unlike other wood, ash can be burnt when green, but like with most wood burns at it’s very best when it is dry. Ash tends to have a very low moisture content when live, which is the main reason why you can burn it when it is green.
There needs to be better facilities in these middle and lower income countries to help educate people about the dangers of burning waste. However, this needs to be backed up with incentives and support from the governments in these countries, to make sure all nations are helping contribute to cleaner air for all. Cleaner air will mean a better environment, fewer hospital admissions due to breathing difficulties, and ultimately fewer pollution related deaths. Action is needed now.
Burning Waste in UK – What Are Your Options?
There is no rules against burning rubbish on a bonfire in your garden. However, there are rules in place to prevent bonfies from causing a nuisance to neighbours or a hazard to safety. These include the following points: