Should we be burning plastic – that’s the burning question?

Should we be burning plastic – that’s the burning question?

What chemicals are released when we burn plastic and what effect can each one have on our health?

Bonfire night on St. John's Eve
Bonfire night on St. John’s Eve

The weather has been great here in Ireland recently and I love the smell of the warm Summer air in the morning. On Tuesday morning when I stepped outside I did not get the smell I expected. It was a harsh, burning smell and it took me a moment to realise what it could be. The day before was 23rd of June and people around my area often celebrate St. John’s Eve by lighting bonfires and gathering the communities together. To be honest I had never heard of this tradition until I moved to Galway but I think it adds a lovely social element to the community. What I don’t like is the small number of people who use it to burn off their plastic waste… and that was the reason for the smell I got on Tuesday morning.

I should add, I am no saint myself… I have absent mindedly thrown the odd crisp bag or wrapper into the fire at home. What harm can it do, right? Well, I have done a little research and it can do a lot more harm than most of us might think.

The graphics below explain what chemicals are released when each of the seven plastic groups are burned, the effects these chemicals can have on our bodies and some very startling facts!



Bisphenol ABPA research articlesDioxinHydrogen Chloride in firesDangers of burning plastic and rubberHome burning of plastics and waste


If you want to find out more on this subject check out these great blog posts…

 Burning of waste – not in my backyard

A new breed of gansters.