Burning waste

Controls on types of waste burning units


You may need a permit from the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (NIEA) or your district council if you burn waste as a fuel on your site to produce energy or steam in a generator, furnace or boiler.

The Waste Incineration Directive (WID) applies to the burning of waste in a technical unit. Although any sort of container, eg a drum, could potentially be described as a technical unit, NIEA's interpretation of a technical unit is 'any piece of equipment that has been specifically designed or adapted for combustion of materials will be regarded as falling within the meaning of technical unit'. The WID does not apply to units which burn only exempt waste - such as some vegetable waste, clean wood waste and animal carcasses.

Waste may be burned in several different types of devices. NIEA or your district council will consider each type of device used to burn waste on a case-by-case basis.

Incineration plant

An incineration plant is any stationary or mobile plant or equipment used for the thermal treatment of waste, whether or not the heat generated from combustion is recovered.

Thermal treatment processes include pyrolysis, gasification or plasma processes where substances produced by the treatment are then incinerated.

Co-incineration plant

A co-incineration plant is any stationary or mobile plant that burns waste mainly to generate energy or produce a material product. The plant either:

  • uses waste as a regular or additional fuel
  • thermally treats waste to dispose of it

Wastes used in a co-incineration plant include:

  • tyres
  • secondary liquid fuels - oils, non-halogenated and halogenated solvents, organic acids, glycols, distillation residues, solvent-based inks, paints, adhesives, organic mixtures, viscous organic liquids, toxic solvents, organic sludges, amines and alkali

Small waste oil burners

If you operate a small waste oil burner (SWOB) you must have a Part A pollution prevention and control (PPC) permit from NIEA.

Drum incinerators

A drum incinerator that does not fall under the definition of a 'technical unit' is not subject to the WID. However, if you use a drum incinerator you may have to register it as an exempt activity.

Open burning of waste

Bonfires and open burning are not subject to the WID, but you may need a waste management licence or a waste exemption and you must not cause a nuisance or pollution.

Air curtain incinerators

You can only use an air curtain incinerator (ACI) to burn waste that is not subject to the WID. ACIs are also known as air curtain destructors, air curtain burners or air burners.

Regardless of the type of waste being burned, an ACI capable of burning more than 1 tonne per hour requires a Part A (mobile plant) permit. In most cases the use of an ACI would not be considered the best available techniques so a permit may not be granted.

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