DNREC Urges Clean Alternatives to Burning Yard Waste

Compost piles need periodic turning to help materials break down.


Residents Can Consider Composting, Drop Off Sites

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control reminds residents that open burning of materials such as tree limbs, brush and branches is not allowed from May 1 through Sept. 30 – also known as ozone season – under the state’s annual open burning ban. Delaware’s annual ban prohibits all outdoor burning, with the exception of cooking fires, recreational campfires and ceremonial bonfires using firewood, which are permitted year-round.

Although burning yard waste may resume on Oct. 1, burning always emits toxic substances such as metals, acids, and particulate matter. These toxins can damage the lungs and hearts of healthy people, but are especially dangerous for children, older people, and people living with health conditions.

“DNREC encourages Delawareans to practice good stewardship of our natural resources by following the rules regarding when and what can be legally burned, and by considering alternatives to open burning, including composting or using yard waste disposal sites to divert this material from our landfills and keep our air clean and healthy for everyone to breathe,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin.

Burning grass clippings and leaves is illegal year-round. However, residents are encouraged to consider starting a backyard compost pile to recycle leaves, grass clippings and certain types of kitchen scraps into a valuable resource. Using homemade or commercial containers keep the process more organized. Inexpensive compost bins are available from the Delaware Solid Waste Authority and the University of Delaware Extension Offices.

Using compost offers many benefits for home gardens and backyards. Compost provides nutrients, adds beneficial organisms to soil, reduces the need for chemical fertilizers, increases soil moisture retention and reduces the amount of organic waste sent to landfills. More information about backyard composting can be found at dnrec.dnrec.delaware.gov, including what can be added to a compost pile.

For residents looking to properly dispose of brush, branches and limbs, DNREC encourages using one of Delaware’s yard waste drop-off sites as an alternative to residential open burning, regardless of the time of year. More information about yard waste drop off sites, including locations and fees, can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

Residents may also contact their trash service to ask about yard waste pickup options. Other options include letting cut branches dry out and renting or purchasing a small chipper to make garden mulch or using a mulching mower on small branches and twigs.

For those who choose to burn from Oct. 1 to April 30, residents are allowed to burn up to 27 cubic feet – or a stack about 3’ by 3’ by 3’ – of cut or fallen limbs, dead branches, or shrubbery from their residence. Only up to this amount of yard waste may be burned at one time and must be burned between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. More information about residential open burning can be found at dnrec.delaware.gov.

Burning trash or garbage, construction and other debris, old tires and other materials considered toxic or hazardous, including leaves and grass clippings, is illegal at all times of year in Delaware. Tickets issued by the Delaware Natural Resources Police Environmental Crimes Unit for open burning violations are punishable by fines of $500 to $1,500, plus court costs.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control protects and manages the state’s natural resources, protects public health, provides outdoor recreational opportunities, and educates Delawareans about the environment. The DNREC Division of Air Quality monitors and regulates all emissions to the air. The DNREC Division of Waste and Hazardous Substances ensures Delaware’s wastes are managed to protect human life, health, safety and the environment. For more information, visit the website and connect with @DelawareDNREC on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Media Contacts: Joanna Wilson, joanna.wilson@delaware.gov; Michael Globetti, michael.globetti@delaware.gov

DNREC and Perdue AgriRecycle, LLC reach settlement agreement on Solid Waste Permit violations

Dover – Delaware’s Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) and Perdue AgriRecycle, LLC (Perdue) have entered into a settlement agreement that resolves environmental violations arising from operations under Composting Permit SW-18/03, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin announced today. Under this permit, Perdue operates a composting facility in Seaford using agricultural wastes and residues from their operations as feedstock for the company’s compost production.

Perdue’s permit requires quarterly reporting of analytical testing of compost batches to ensure that it is fit to be sold. Issues arose from lab reports being provided in a piecemeal manner to DNREC. Additionally, the reports were missing key data points, and DNREC’s Division of Waste & Hazardous Substances questioned the compost batch samples and their chain-of-custody. Chain-of-custody helps to make sure a sample is handled in such a way as to maintain quality control and prevents introducing potential contamination into the process of moving the sample from the field to the lab.

In addition to the piecemeal data reporting, there were other instances where incorrect data was provided to DNREC as part of Perdue’s quarterly reporting process. In these instances, subsequent review of data showed that the material in question exceeded allowable levels of chemicals including chromium VI and fecal bacteria.

The settlement agreement directs Perdue to change how they are reporting as well as to clarify how reports will be provided to DNREC. Additionally, it focuses on ensuring that the quality of finished product is high and conforms to the standards within Permit SW-18/03 and that “unfinished” product will no longer be distributed by Perdue AgriRecycle, LLC.

Through the settlement agreement, DNREC Secretary Garvin issued an Administrative Penalty to Perdue AgriRecycle, LLC for the violations of Delaware’s Regulations Governing Solid Waste. The Settlement Agreement assesses a penalty of $179,429, which includes $4,429 from Perdue AgriRecycle, LLC for DNREC cost recovery. Perdue has accepted obligations set forth by DNREC and agreed to corrective actions required by the Department.

The settlement agreement can be found on the DNREC website at dnrec.alpha.delaware.gov/secretarys-orders/.

Media Contact: Michael Globetti, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902