Bonfires in Michigan happen all year long. Bonfires are a good way to burn excess wood from the yard. Sometimes people burn trash. Is it legal to burn trash in Michigan?

Photo Credit: Isarapic via Canva Pro
Photo Credit: Isarapic via Canva Pro

There's a lot you need to know about when having a bonfire in the state of Michigan.

What is open burning?

Isn't it just having a campfire and roasting some marshmallows?

When it comes to the state of Michigan, they say:

Open burning is the burning of unwanted materials such as paper, trees, brush, leaves, grass, and other debris where smoke and other emissions are released directly into the air. During open burning, air pollutants do not pass through a chimney or stack and/or combustion of solid waste is not adequately controlled. Open burning pollutes the air and poses a forest fire hazard. The air pollution created by open burning can irritate eyes and lungs, obscure visibility, soil nearby surfaces, create annoying odors or pose other nuisance or health threats. Because of the problems created by this activity, state and local laws prohibit open burning of many materials. Many people are either unaware of the regulations or unsure about which regulations apply to them.

It looks like burning that leaf pile this fall in Michigan is on hold.

What about general open burning in Michigan, how can I do it?

Michigan air quality and solid waste regulations prohibit open burning that creates smoke or odor nuisances. Burn permits may be obtained by using the Burn Permits Management System interactive county map located at: A burn permit does not allow burning prohibited by other regulations. Burn permits are available from the DNR for the Upper Peninsula and Northern Michigan counties. In the southern Lower Peninsula, permits may be obtained from the local fire department or local governing body. These permits allow for tree limbs, brush, stumps, evergreen needles, leaves, and grass to be burned in a safe manner. The local DNR Fire Manager must issue a permit for ongoing burns for construction or land clearing, for roadway maintenance, and for performing prescribed burns without a written plan.

I live in Meridian Township and I need a permit for my firepit.

Garbage pile in trash dump or landfill. Pollution concept.

I have a bag of trash and I don't want to deal with it, can I toss it on the fire?

I don't know why you would want to do that in the first place because trash stinks. Hot, burning trash smells worse.

The peeps at the state say:

Public Act 102 of 2012 prohibits trash burning of household waste from a family dwelling with the exception of untreated paper. Trash that contains plastic, rubber, foam, chemically treated wood, textiles, electronics, chemicals, or hazardous materials must not be burned as emissions release chemicals which pose a danger to human health and the environment. Homeowners that choose to burn trash that is not prohibited may do so in an approved container on their property as long as it does not violate any other local or state ordinances or regulations. An approved container is constructed of metal or masonry with a metal covering device with openings no larger than 3/4 inch. Local police and fire officers are authorized to enforce this provision as a state civil infraction of Section 11522 of Act 451 of 1994.

Burning trash is nasty in the first place but now you know officially, no, you cannot burn your trash.

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