Date posted: 13.05.24

Domestic burning has come under much scrutiny in recent years. As society focuses more than ever on being carbon neutral, being sustainable and actively lowering pollution, the burning of solid fuel has become somewhat of a scapegoat.

This isn’t to say the burning of solid fuel isn’t bad. Coal burning, bonfires, open fires, and unseasoned wood all contribute to pollution and excessive emissions. However, among these bad methods are some very green, sustainable ways to burn solid fuel.

Sadly, this broad-brush, one-size-fits-all approach has led to a number of misleading and shocking statements thrown around in the media.

Misleading Statements such as:

“Burning wood and coal in open fires and stoves makes up 38% of the UK’s primary emissions of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).”

“An Ecodesign stove will emit 750 times more pollution than an HGV vehicle.”

Key findings:

  • Domestic burning releases 47,643 tonnes of PM2.5 a year; of this, 46% comes from outdoor burning.
  • Emissions from outdoor burning are nine times higher than the current percentage (5%) attributed to outdoor burning.
  • When analysing the relative contributions of outdoor burning to indoor burning for just wood fuels (assuming the banning of house coal and wet wood), outdoor wood burning was found to account for 51% of all domestic wood burning PM2.5 emissions.
  • Green waste, waste wood and rubbish combined account for 90% of all outdoor burning emissions.
  • Outdoor burning sources emit at ground level with no chimney to provide dispersal at height.

Furthermore, findings highlight…

  • Outdoor burning produces no useful heat, whereas correctly seasoned wood on an ecodesign stove used indoors provides a low-carbon heating option.
  • Ecodesign stoves produce 2.7% of PM2.5 emissions from burning wood logs despite using 9% of the fuel.
  • Open fires contribute 39% of emissions, using 26% of the wood.

What things we should really be considering:

The time has come to allow the public to get a better understanding of how environmentally friendly Ecodesign stoves are, and how there is a significant difference between different solid fuel burning methods. Action should be taken to tackle bonfires, which have been found to be a major source of PM2.5. More research is needed into the emissions factors from green waste burning.

Latest News