Don't burn your garbage toolkit

In Minnesota, backyard burning of garbage is still common. Local units of government play a critical role in educating Minnesota residents about the risks of burn barrels and changing their disposal practices. The MPCA offers resources that can assist you.

Burn barrel cardFact sheets and handouts

Download and print:

Radio: Public service announcements

These PSAs were produced in 2007 for the statewide use in Minnesota to educate residents; voice talent royalties have been paid in full for use in Minnesota.

We offer two sets of radio spots: one voiced by Minnesota's own Ron Schara, the other based on the character Bernie the Burn Barrel. Each PSA has a version without the MPCA tag so it can be customized with local contact information.

  • PDF icon Burn barrel radio scripts
  • Package icon Radio Ads: Burn barrel Public Service Announcements (153Mb)

    These PSAs were produced for statewide use in Minnesota to educate residents; voice talent royalties have been paid in full for use in Minnesota. The full set includes scripts, two different spots (4 file formats included), and cue sheet for broadcasters.

    • 128Kbps MP3 (Compressed, middle quality)
    • 320Kbps MP3 (Compressed, high quality)
    • AIF 16bit 44.1 Khz (Broadcast quality, Mac)
    • WAV 16bit 44.1 Khz (Broadcast quality, Windows)

Bernie displayPortable display: Bernie the Burn Barrel

This portable display is available from MPCA for use at events like county fairs and public meetings. Contact the MPCA to reserve it at 651-296-6300, 800-877-6300.

Sample editorials

Sample no-burn resolutions for county boards

A few counties in Minnesota have formally banned garbage burning at the local level, where garbage service is reasonably available to all residents. Enforcing laws against burning is easier for police and other enforcement officers when all burning of municipal solid waste is banned.

This sample resolution is an actual county resolution that bans all burning and burial of garbage. It is only intended as an example; modification would be needed.

Burn barrel buy-back program

Over four years, Chisago County used the process outlined here to reduce by 40% the number of county residents estimated to be burning or illegally disposing of garbage.

  • Monitor and record all complaints from residents about neighbors' burn barrels. Work with applicable local governments and laws and develop a procedure  for responding to complaints.
  • Use gathered data to persuade the county board to pass a ban on garbage burning and burying, if you don't yet have one.
  • Notify offenders that burning garbage is illegal and that they must use local garbage services instead.
  • Meet with garbage haulers in your county to get their input and assistance. Every former garbage burner is a potential new garbage service customer for the haulers. Will they offer a discounted rate for garbage burners who are willing to give up their burn barrels? If so, you've got a burn barrel buy back program!
  • Create partnerships and share your educational materials with them to get the word out. Work with:
    • Haulers, the police, and other enforcement staff to get the word out to customers. Can first-time offenders avoid a fine if they agree to participate in the buy back program?
    • Your county health department to help educate residents about the health risks associated with garbage burning.
    • The fire warden and ask them to pass along educational materials to residents seeking burning permits.
    • Township officers to get the word out to rural residents.
  • Promote the program through news releases and local ads. Create inserts for the county property tax statements. Set up displays at home shows and county fairs.
  • Send informational letters to all county residents with five or more acres of land, who are presumably the most likely to burn or bury their garbage.
  • Measure and report the changes that your efforts make.