Yard waste is grass clippings, tree leaves, gardening waste, and shrubbery trimmings collected from residential property. This does not include household waste or trade waste. Residential backyard or outdoor burning is a form of open burning, which is burning of material where products of combustion are emitted directly into the ambient air without passing through a stack, duct, or chimney from an enclosed chamber. Residential outdoor burning includes fires in burn barrels.
LAWN MULCHING—Leave grass clippings on your lawn to add nutrients back into the soil and improve lawn health.
CHIPPING—Add chipped brush, pruning, to increase nutrients. Chippers are often available for rent.
CURBSIDE PICKUP—Collect and separate yard waste, organic material, and recyclables and set them out for curbside collection. Check with your local government or waste management company for local services. Compost yard waste to recycle organic material and add nutrients back into the soil.
COMPOSTING—Compost yard waste to recycle organic material and add nutrients back into the soil. Composting is an effective, environmentally safe way to recycle yard waste, and the compost is used to improve lawns, vegetable gardens and flower beds, or it is applied as a mulch around shrubs and trees. Generally, compost consists of not only yard waste but also kitchen waste such as eggshells, coffee grounds, and vegetable peelings.
Notice to those who choose to burn: You are responsible for fire, smoke, and odors created from open burning and for damage that results from your fire. The following information will help identify the problems, rules, sources of information, and alternatives to the open burning of residential yard waste.
Generally, Arkansans may burn yard waste that is collected from the property it is grown on. Residential open burning of yard waste is strongly discouraged but permissible in some areas of Arkansas under specified conditions. Ark. Code Ann § 8-6-1703. Both state and local authorities may limit the practice of the open burning of yard waste. Local authorities, such as city or county officials, can place local restrictions on open burning. Local authorities may also set up a permit procedure that requires residents to get a permit from the county courthouse, city hall, or the fire department before burning yard waste. Additionally, several federal and state agencies can issue burn bans that stop burning because of weather conditions or potential hazards. By law, open burning can be prohibited in a particular area of the state or throughout the entire state when:
- It becomes a local nuisance.
- It creates a fire or safety hazard.
- It pollutes the air and DEQ believes it will create a situation whereby the National Ambient Air Quality Standards could be exceeded in a given area.
FILING AN AIR POLLUTION COMPLAINT WITH STATE OR LOCAL AUTHORITIES
State and local authorities may prohibit the burning of yard waste
- LOCAL AUTHORITIES—Complaints about nuisance, fire, and safety should be directed to local authorities, which may include the fire department, police department, or sheriff’s office.
- STATE AUTHORITIES—Complaints about air pollution caused by the open burning of yard waste should be directed to DEQ. Links to DEQ’s mobile app and the complaint reporting form can be found on this page: https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/complaints/forms/air_complaint.aspx.
You may file a complaint with DEQ in one of the following ways:
- Contact your local inspector—https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/air/compliance/inspectors_map.aspx
- Use the DEQ Mobile App
- App Store—https://apps.apple.com/us/app/id997398445
- Google Play—https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.adeq.android
- Submit a complaint on DEQ’s website—https://www.adeq.state.ar.us/complaints
When a complaint is filed with DEQ, an inspector is sent out to investigate the complaint. State and/or local officials can take steps to ensure the fire is extinguished and possibly issue a ticket or a fine if the fire is one of the following:
- Persistent offense to neighbors
- Fire hazard to surrounding property
- Safety hazard
EDUCATIONAL VISIT FOR FIRST-TIME COMPLAINT
Many people are either unaware of the rules or unsure about which rules apply to them. Arkansas law indicates that state and local governments should first pursue educational and voluntary compliance efforts. Ark. Code Ann. § 8-6-1702. A DEQ inspector will explain open burning rules for a first-time complaint. This is considered an educational visit. A handout explaining open burning rules will be provided or mailed. If burning continues, DEQ will send a warning letter or notification to the alleged violator if there is a violation of Arkansas statutes and rules. DEQ may take other action depending on the type and severity of the open burning violation. Further violations may result in an enforcement action.
RULES REGARDING OPEN BURNING
RULE 18.602 GENERAL PROHIBITION:
No person shall cause or permit the open burning of refuse, garbage, trade waste, or other waste material, or shall conduct a salvage operation by open burning.
RULE 18.603 EXEMPTIONS
The provisions of §18.602 herein shall not apply to the following activities:
- Fires used for the non-commercial cooking of food or for ceremonial or recreational purposes, including barbecues and outdoor fireplaces used in connection with any residence;
- Open burning related to agricultural activities including, but not limited to, clearing previously uncultivated lands and burning of stubble and other debris on previously harvested fields; provided however, that this exemption shall not be extended to the disposal, by open burning, of waste products generated by cotton gins, or similar equipment used in a manufacturing process or to the disposal by open burning of fowls or animals;
- Controlled fires used for purposes of forest and wildlife management, provided that such fires are used and burned when winds are blowing away from populated areas which might be affected;
- Controlled fires used only for purposes of on-site land clearing operations;
No person shall cause or permit the emission of air contaminants, including odors or water vapor including an air contaminant whose emission is not otherwise prohibited by this Code, if the emission of the air contaminant constitutes air pollution.
RULE 18.605 OPEN BURNING PERMIT
Upon application, the Department shall issue permits for open burning, provided that the applicant affirmatively demonstrates to the satisfaction of the Department, that there are no practicable, safe, and lawful alternative methods of disposal and that open burning is absolutely necessary and in the public interest and provided, further, that said applications contain such other information as the Department may reasonably require. Only permits issued by the Department satisfy this chapter. Open burning permits may also be required by the local public officers, boards, councils, or commissions for safety or other purposes; however, those permits do not satisfy the requirement to obtain a permit under this chapter.