Burning bins to get high: The return of Britain’s most stupid craze

18th April 2023

By Mark Hall

Burning bins to get high: The return of Britain’s most stupid craze

The urban legend that’s not worth dying for

Every few years the ridiculous urban legend of burning bins to get high comes back round again, and with lockdown boredom on the rise it seems that Britain’s most stupid are back in town.

According to waste removal specialists Divert.co.uk, the original myth that began over a decade ago claims burning wheelie bins and sniffing the fumes has the same effect as highs from recreational drugs. Fact-check: It does not.

But now the word on Stupid Street is that different bins will give different highs, which Divert.co.uk says is absolute rubbish.

“The rumour has been doing the rounds for over a decade now, and every couple of years we hear of a resurgence in bin thefts and fires related to people chasing the idea of cheap highs,” says company spokesman Mark Hall.

“It’s incredibly dangerous and you could end up dead. Like actual dead-dead.”

Fumes are not fun

The craze, which last saw a major resurgence in 2017 with an 100% increase in reported cases, seems to be on the up due to lockdown boredom during the Covid-19 pandemic, with many recreational facilities closed and individuals looking for new ways to get their kicks.

While not every burnt bin is drug-related (as some of them could just be arson), police reports indicate that some perpetrators are doing it solely to get high.

Wheelie bins are made from high density polyethylene, which releases carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide into the air when set alight.

These dangerous gases can starve the brain of oxygen, creating an intense headache that people misinterpret as a ‘high’.

So in fact, you’re not actually getting high off of a burning bin – you are actually slowly killing yourself. And that’s before we even think about what potentially hazardous items are in the flaming bin to start with.

As for the new rumour about different colour bins giving different highs, particularly brown bins,  Divert.co.uk spokesman Mark Hall says it’s believed that different dyes used to make coloured bins give off different fumes.

“Ultimately, all wheelie bins are made of the same plastic and will all give off the same hazardous gases, so saying specific colours will make you more intoxicated is just a new twist on an already dangerous trend.”

While no one has been reported dead from huffing bins, Divert.co.uk are concerned that it’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously hurt.

“There’s a whole list of things that could go wrong, ranging from serious injury or dying from the fumes – to starting a major fire which could put others at risk.”

“You don’t know what someone might have put in the bin, one rogue aerosol could cause an explosion and kill you.”

Stop ‘arson’ about

Stealing bins is theft and burning them is arson, so not only is bin burning hazardous to your health, but it will also get you a criminal record.

Divert.co.uk advise businesses and households to chain up their bins or keep them safely stored away from prying eyes to prevent adding fuel to the fire.

“If nothing, having your bin nicked and set fire to is a huge inconvenience. Someone has to clean up that mess and it’ll be such a hassle getting new bins with services running on limited lockdown capacity.”

So if you’re running around and huffing bin fires trying to get high, Divert.co.uk’s very own ‘Rubbish Spice’ Mark Hall says, “stop right now, thank you very much”.