Outdoor burning of toxic items prompts warning

Thursday 23 November 2023

Mattresses, plastic bottles, tyres, chemicals and waste oil are just some of the items being burnt outdoors in Otago.

Otago residents are being urged to be a lot more thoughtful about what they burn outdoors after the Otago Regional Council has recently had to deal with a spate of potentially toxic fires this year, says ORC’s Manager Compliance Tami Sargeant. 

  “It’s important to think about what you’re burning; you’ll breathe it in and so will your family and your neighbours.” 



Prohibited items being burnt



burning toxic items on the ground


Items such as mattresses, plastic bottles, tyres, food waste, chemicals and waste oil can’t be burnt safety, as they have the potential to discharge extremely harmful toxins into the environment.

Best practice is to find a way to recycle or re-use them or dispose of them appropriately at landfill, Ms Sargeant says.

If you are conducting backyard burning or having burn-offs, Ms Sargeant says there is a need to consider what effect your actions are having on the wider community and the environment.  

“You can still have fires, but what we are saying is, please be up to speed with our rules and understand what you can and can’t burn,” she says. 

ORC has produced a quick guide to rules around outdoor burning in Otago, aimed to help anyone navigate which rules apply in which part of Otago.

You can view the guide here:  https://www.orc.govt.nz/media/10436/outdoor-burning-quick-guide-mobile.pdf  

If you see signs of pollution or outdoor burning of concern, contact ORC’s Pollution Hotline 0800 800 033