New Law Limits What Can Go into Burn Barrels

Apr 19, 2012

A new law will soon limit the types of waste that can be thrown into pits and barrels to be burned.

Plastics, chemically treated wood, and electronics are among the types of trash that cannot be burned.

The new rules don’t go as far as some people wanted – which was to ban outdoor burning altogether. There were fights between neighbors about drifting smoke  -- in some cases, causing or aggravating asthma attacks.

But burning waste is so common in parts of rural Michigan that a compromise was struck. Some of the most toxic materials are banned, but grass, leaves and other yard waste can still be burned.

Dan Wyant is the director of the state Department of Environmental Quality. He hopes this is the beginning of a culture change in rural Michigan.

“We’ll go out, and we’re trying to educate. We’re not trying to be heavy-handed in our enforcement, but we’ll communicate about the law, and we do want to move away from outdoor burning.”

The new rules become enforceable in six months.