Is incinerating paper waste environmentally acceptable?

Close-up of burning paper waste. Photo by Kletr/Shutterstock

Is incinerating paper waste environmentally acceptable? Would a permit be required?

It’s generally better to recycle paper than burn it; however, there are circumstances in which burning paper waste is the most environmentally friendly option. If your cottage is way out in the boonies or on an island, the fuel you’d use to get to a recycling depot, and/or the car or boat emissions you’d create, could easily outweigh the benefits of recycling small amounts of paper.

If your cottage is closer to services, though, try to recycle. Remember: Paper is a valuable commodity and can make money for your cottage municipality, and benefit you as a taxpayer. Another option for cottagers is taking their paper waste home, where recycling services are likely closer.

Where recycling facilities are available, burning is your worst option. But burning clean materials, including paper, is permissible as long as you follow local bylaws, which outline the rules for open burning (including hours, burnable materials, and how the fire must be supervised).