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Open Burning FAQs

What is open burning?

Open burning is the combustion of any matter in the open or in an open dump [415 ILCS 5/3.300].


Open burning permits are issued for the following burning activities:

    Fire Fighter Training/Fire Extinguisher Training

    Landscape Waste with Air Curtain Destructor

    Prairie & Ecological Landscape Burns

    Disaster Debris Open Burning


The applicant must complete and submit the appropriate application form.

What is the Illinois law on open burning?

Open burning is generally prohibited in Illinois unless there is a statutory exemption provided in the Environmental Protection Act (e.g., burning of landscape wastes upon the premises where it is produced) or unless there is an exemption provided for in the Illinois Pollution Control Board’s (Board) Part 237 rules. (e.g., agricultural wastes, household wastes and landscape wastes). Except for the burning of landscape waste, the exceptions authorized by the Board regulations are subject to the prohibition against air pollution. In addition, the exceptions provide for certain restrictions, including meteorological conditions and reasonable times/places and manner.


A common example of open burning that frequently occurs is the burning of landscape wastes. Landscape wastes, including trees, tree trimmings, branches, stumps, brush, weeds, leaves, grass, shrubbery, and yard trimmings may be open burned upon the premises where it is produced or at sites provided and supervised by any unit of local government, except within any county having a population of more than 400,000. The regulations identify certain prohibited areas where the open burning of landscape wastes is not allowed, however, a later enactment by the Illinois General Assembly to Section 9(f) of the Environmental Protection Act appear to nullify these requirements.


Burning of household waste (not including garbage) is allowed only on the premises where it is generated and outside any “restricted area” (defined as any city, village, or incorporated township plus a zone extending one mile beyond the boundaries when there is a population of 1,000 or more). Household waste is defined as waste generated from a single-family home. Household waste does not include landscape waste, garbage (food waste and diapers), trade waste (construction debris, roofing materials), appliances and other wastes not associated with domiciliary activities.


The other category of open burning that is commonly permissible is the burning of agricultural wastes, which must occur on the premises where the waste is generated but not in restricted areas. Such wastes include refuse that is generated on a farm or ranch by common crop or livestock production practices, including dry bedding and crop residues.


Miscellaneous requirements of the Part 237 regulations authorizing open burning include the burning of fuels for recreational use. Campfires and bonfires are allowed either on private property or in public areas where specified. In addition, the open burning of garbage is prohibited in Illinois.


Note: State law does not override local prohibitions or limitations on open burning.

Who regulates open burning?

The Illinois Pollution Control Board (Board) and the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA or Agency) regulate open burning.


Pursuant to 415 ILCS 5/9(c): No person shall cause or allow the open burning of refuse, conduct any salvage operation by open burning, or cause or allow the burning of any refuse in any chamber not specifically designed for the purpose and approved by the Agency…except that the Board may adopt regulations permitting open burning of refuse in certain cases.


Local (counties or municipalities, i.e., villages, towns, or cities) authorities/governments may also regulate open burning in areas where they have jurisdiction. Local ordinances may be more restrictive and may require independent permitting requirements. Local ordinances may require that additional permits be obtained.


Where do I go to find open burning permit applications?

Permit applications are located at Open Burning Permit Forms.