Rule changes would disallow burning of household trash



LANSING — Rule changes proposed by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment would make it illegal to burn household trash throughout the state.

If approved, the new rules would take effect April 1, 2011.

“The changes will eliminate the current open burning exemption that allows the burning of household trash, including plastics, rubber, paper, shingles, treated wood, and other rubbish,” said James Ostrowski of the Environmental Assistance Program with the DNRE. “That means that after April 1, 2011, the exemption that allows residents to burn their trash will no longer exist, and it will become illegal to burn residential trash under state regulations.”

Ostrowski said that the changes also include three exemptions, which will allow the burning of contraband by a police agency, prescribed burns, and the burning of diseased or infested wooden apple bins.

He said the new rules would not affect people who wanted to burn leaves.

“The amendments will not change the provisions that allow the burning of leaves, brush, and other yard clippings, nor will they prohibit recreational campfires,” Ostrowski said.

Ostrowski said the DNRE believes the changes are needed because the composition of household trash has changed.

“The current provisions that allow the burning of household trash were added nearly 40 years ago, when the makeup of our trash was much different, as was the availability of waste disposal services,” Ostrowski said. “Along with an increased volume of household trash, composition of the waste now includes treated paper, plastics, foam, metals and other man-made materials. Open burning of this type of trash emits contaminants that can have both long- and short-term health effects on exposed people, especially those with cardiovascular and respiratory conditions such as asthma.”

He added that the burning of trash also causes a significant number of wildfires and property fires throughout the state, while also generating many smoke and odor complaints.

“Michigan is not the first to update its regulations,” Ostrowski said. “In fact, Michigan is the only state in the Great Lakes region that does not prohibit or restrict trash burning. Nationally, 40 states restrict or prohibit the activity under rule or statute.”

Ostrowski said the DNRE doesn’t expect the changes to affect a large number of people.

“Some residents in Michigan may have to pay to dispose of their trash in an acceptable manner,” he said. “However, most households in Michigan are located in areas that prohibit the burning of trash and are, therefore, already currently paying for waste disposal or recycling.”

And Ostrowski said that the DNRE wouldn’t be specifically looking for people who are not following the new regulations.

“The DNRE does not intend to actively target residents for enforcement of this rule, but rather focus on educating residents and local officials about the dangers of trash burning and the options available to deal with open burning complaints in their communities,” he said. “The immediate concern of the DNRE is protecting the health of those adversely affected by trash burning. It is expected that any enforcement will be complaint-driven and conducted primarily by local units of government, where they deem it to be necessary.”

Ostrowski added that the DNRE would not require local units of government to adopt the changes and enforce the new regulations.

“However, for those communities that are interested in addressing the issue, the DNRE will provide help with the development of ordinances,” Ostrowski said. “Where ordinances do not exist, the DNRE can assist local authorities with writing citations under the state regulation.”

Ostrowski said that these changes still must be approved by the DNRE, and have not yet been finalized. However, he added, they are in the final stages. He said he expects the final few steps to be completed by late January, early February.


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Wednesday, December 22, 2010 | Report this

I have to admit that I didn't know this was allowed at all and can't understand who would want to "burn" plastic milk cartons and vegetable cans and aluminum and such!! They don't burn and break down into ash, they just get hot!!

Would this rule change apply to outdoor "heat-mor" systems that residents and some businesses use?

Thursday, December 23, 2010 | Report this

Are you kidding me? Another uneducated act by the DNRE. Politics at its best!!

No paper plates in your campfire? No burning of napkins? No "paper Logs" for you fireplace?

DNRE has bigger problems than regulating and passing regulations at such a broad scale without specifics. Got it- no burning of plastics, rubber, etc.......but to say no burning of paper- put it in a landfill and it take years to break down (gives off equal amount of carbon).

How about no clear cutting, no burning of brush and leaves (this is what causes forest fires in Michigan), no camp fires/burning on public land.

I hope the new Governor (thank God we have a new one) overhauls this money greedy, ineffective DNRE organization and appoints those with brains, scope, common sense, and communication skills.

Friday, December 24, 2010 | Report this

Sheeple, follow us mindlessly.

Thank you, your benevolent leaders.

Friday, December 24, 2010 | Report this

Being new to the area and from downstate, where there is curbside pick up of garbage. I was surprised that there are so many homes that have entirely trashed yards. If not full of rotting cars, piles of trash, boards and other debris. One would think that this ordinence was already in place. Now we find out that Oscoda County is no longer going to help pick up the tab for disposing of household waste and other yard goods. Heaven forbid, what other forms of trash will be placed on disply for all to see each day.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | Report this

@ UpnorthLife; Wow... If you read the article, it says specifically that camp fires are just fine. Common sense is written all over this article. You're worried enforcement on paper plates and napkins in your campfire?... I suppose they are watching your campfire with satellites from outer space too?

This prohibition is clearly aimed at not burning household trash, including tires, plastic, foam mattresses, and other garbage that creates noxious gases and toxic ash.

The only places where this will create a burden is extremely remote places, with no roadside pick-up for trash; or no dump within easy driving distance.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 | Report this

REALLY!! I think the DNRE need to worry about the poachers and trail riders that violate the laws, then to worry about people burning trash. We always complain about the people who don't keep up their properties, now this will really keep the yards neat and clean. Give me a break, the bureaucracy from the DNRE is getting out of control!!

Saturday, January 1, 2011 | Report this

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