Complete combustion converts waste into inert bottom ash with minimal production of smoke, fly ash and toxic

gases. Several factors influence this process including the heating value, wetness and chemical makeup of the

waste itself, operating conditions in the burn chamber (i.e. temperature, holding time and turbulence) and

operator skill.

The method used is important in determining what can safely be burnt. Certain wastes can only be incinerated

using equipment that has been specifically designed and equipped with adequate air pollution controls and that

achieve specific air emission standards. By way of instance, waste containing chlorinated compounds (i.e. chlorinated

solvents and plastics, PVC piping, wood treated with pentachlorophenol or PCB-amended paint, marine driftwood)

has to be separated from other waste as their burning will lead to the de novo production and emission of various

dioxin and furan compounds. Waste containing mercury (i.e. batteries, thermostats and fluorescent light bulbs) and

other heavy metals (i.e. lead acid batteries, wood treated with lead paint) should not be burnt as the mercury

and heavy metals won’t be destroyed.

Table 2 provides a listing of common wastes which can be burned and those that require special consideration and

treatment. Note that open burning and incineration are identified as separate columns in the table and that

different limitations apply depending upon which method is used.   In general, more constraints apply to the

various procedures of open burning due to the incomplete combustion achieved.  Fewer restrictions apply to

incineration due to the operator’s ability to control the combustion process.

Non-combustible materials such as metal and glass do not burn and will rob heat from waste which could be

destroyed by burning.  Combustible waste should always be separated from non-combustible waste before being loaded

into the burn chamber.

destroyed by burning.  Combustible waste should always be separated from non-combustible waste before being loaded

into the burn chamber.