Most of us missed out on a Bonfire Night event last year because of the size restrictions on gatherings. Even though the rules have changed for 2021, and the Government is attempting to slow the spread of coronavirus in other ways, November 5 is unlikely to be ‘normal’.

Indeed, Manchester City Council has announced that the eight free bonfire and firework events it organises will again not take place. However, that doesn’t mean the sky won’t be lit up.

Instead, it’s expected that more people will host their own garden firework display at home to mark Guy Fawkes Night. For them, there will be tidying up to do afterwards.

Image of purple and red rocket fireworks.

Are fireworks recyclable?

In short, no they’re not.

Although they’re often made from materials that are recyclable, the danger and effort involved to separate those small fragments of paper and metal mean it isn’t worth the risk.

Not only that, but chemicals used in the production of most fireworks can contaminate other goods that it is possible to recycle otherwise.

As a result, the advice to follow from most local authorities in the UK is not to throw them into your kerbside recycling bin. Doing so also removes any unnecessary hazards for members of your council’s waste collection team.

How do I dispose of fireworks safely?

Fireworks can leave a mess to clear, more so if you don’t know what to do with them.

Always make sure you extinguish them completely and never put them on a bonfire or bury them – including those which are fully spent.

Use tongs and wear heatproof gloves while picking up cases and other debris. Soak the fireworks – whether used, misfired or duds – in a bucket of cold water for at least 20 minutes – but preferably overnight – so they’re wet through.

Afterwards, double wrap them in plastic bags to avoid them drying out and put them in your general rubbish bin ready for collection. Alternatively, if you are unsure, contact the manufacturer or supplier for their advice on what to do.

If I can’t recycle fireworks, can I reuse them?

The answer, again, is no.

You should dispose of unused, misfired or ‘dud’ fireworks – ones that fall to the floor unexploded – in exactly the same way as described above.

It is wise to let a ‘dud’ cool for a short while before picking it up and submerging it in water.

Image of a sparkler with golden sparkles.

What about sparklers – can you recycle those?

Like fireworks, sparklers aren’t biodegradable or recyclable.

They are often made from metal coated with binders, fuels and oxidisers, which stops them from being used again. Instead, the important thing is to dispose of them safely.

You should plunge sparklers, hot end down, into a bucket of water the moment they burn out. Only after they have cooled completely can you put them into the bin.

Further reading

How to build the perfect bonfire
Can you recycle pumpkins?
Are Christmas decorations recyclable?

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