For most Minnesotans, it is against the law to burn or bury household wastes — it's been illegal since the 1980s. Farmers in some areas are still allowed to burn some household wastes, due to the limited availability of collection or drop-off services for waste and recyclables.
Even where it's still allowed by law, backyard burning of household garbage is an unsafe and unhealthy practice.
State statutes regulate open burning and on-site disposal of municipal solid waste in Minnesota.
- Open Burning Prohibitions (Minn. Stat. 88.171) addresses prohibited materials that cannot be burned, including industrial waste, garbage, and hazardous wastes.
No person shall conduct, cause, or permit open burning of rubber, plastics, chemically treated materials, or other materials which produce excessive or noxious smoke including, but not limited to, tires, railroad ties, chemically treated lumber, composite shingles, tar paper, insulation, composition board, sheetrock, wiring, paint, or paint filters.
- Farm Disposal of Solid Waste (Minn. Stat. 17.135) covers the specifics relating to farming operations and open burning or burying of municipal solid waste. This exemption does not apply to the prohibited materials listed in Minn. Stat. § 88.171 — materials found in most household garbage.
(a) A permit is not required from a state agency, except under sections 88.16, 88.17, and 88.22 for a person who owns or operates land used for farming that buries, or burns and buries, solid waste generated from the person's household or as part of the person's farming operation if the burying is done in a nuisance free, pollution free, and aesthetic manner on the land used for farming. This exception does not apply if regularly scheduled pickup of solid waste is reasonably available at the person's farm, as determined by resolution of the county board of the county where the person's farm is located.
County and local
Many counties in Minnesota have formally banned garbage burning at the local level, passing a county board resolution stating garbage service is reasonably available to all residents and making onsite disposal illegal for county residents.
Contact your county solid waste office to learn about local laws and alternatives to back yard garbage burning in your area.