Burning Man to Institute Solid Waste Collection and Curbside Recycling Services in BRC

UPDATE: In case you didn’t notice the publish date for this post, it was indeed an April Fool’s prank.  There WILL NOT be waste collection at Burning Man. Burning Man is the largest Leave No Trace event in the world, thanks to each and every citizen of Black Rock City packing out everything they pack in. And this tall order is truly an art form. Learn more.

Despite the Burning Man Project’s ongoing negotiations with the Nevada Board of Health (NBH), the NBH has recently decided to expand and enforce the Nevada Solid Waste Disposal Law (Nevada Administrative Code 444.5486) as it pertains to standards of operations for temporary mass gatherings such as Burning Man. As a result, it’s become necessary for the Burning Man Project to institute solid waste pick-up and curbside recycling throughout Black Rock City, starting in 2010.

Chapter 444 of the Nevada State Environmental Statutes, Regulations, and Orders, pertaining to sanitation, reads as follows:

NAC 444.5486 Removal of solid waste. (NRS 439.200)
1. The operator of a temporary mass gathering shall remove all solid waste from the site of the gathering within a reasonable time after the end of the gathering.
2. If, during the operation of a temporary mass gathering, the health authority determines that an accumulation of solid waste is a nuisance:
(a) The health authority shall notify the operator of the gathering; and
(b) The operator shall, within a reasonable time after being notified, abate the nuisance.
3. As used in this section, “nuisance” has the meaning ascribed to it in NAC 444.594.
(Added to NAC by Bd. of Health by R071-03, eff. 10-22-2003)

NAC 444.594 “Nuisance” defined. (NRS 444.560)
“Nuisance” means anything which is injurious to health, offensive to the senses, or an obstruction to the free use of property, and thus interferes with the comfortable enjoyment of life or property.
[Environmental Comm’n, Solid Waste Mgt Reg. S 1.12, eff. 9-21-77]

In its recent decision, the NBH has chosen to consider Black Rock City’s growing waste disposal situation a “nuisance” as defined in NAC 444.594. Thus the Burning Man Project has been forced to reallocate a significant portion of its annual event budget originally earmarked for art grants to create and manage a fleet of BRC MOOP Collection Mutant Vehicles (MCMVs) that will make daily rounds to collect garbage throughout Black Rock City, starting at 6am each day of the event.  These MCMVs will of course be designed with a creative whimsicality befitting Burning Man.

Burning Man’s Department of Public Works will administrate the garbage collection process. The citizens of BRC should place their zip-tie sealed bags of garbage at the street-side edge of their camps each morning for pick-up (and including a 6-pack or two of Pabst Blue Ribbon would be appreciated by this hard-working DPW crew). To comply with the recycling requirement, participants should also separate and bag their aluminum, plastics and paper, and place these bags at the curbside for morning pick-up.

The Burning Man Project regrets this decision by the NBH, but we’re confident that our populace will rise to the occasion as it always does, and show what true Burners are capable of.

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase first attended Burning Man 2001. He was Burning Man's Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004-2009, and the Operations Manager and member of the Art Council for the ARTery (Burning Man's art department headquarters in Black Rock City) from 2003-2008. In 2009, he transitioned into the Communications Department, where his responsibilities include global communication strategy, authoring the Jackrabbit Speaks Newsletter, content management for the Burning Man website, coordination of Burning Man's social networking efforts, and acting as editor for the Burning Blog. Tales of his sordid adventures can be found on his website.

51 thoughts on “Burning Man to Institute Solid Waste Collection and Curbside Recycling Services in BRC

  • Im going to try and look at this as a positive thing but I think this might go against the radical self-reliance. I realize that you guys might be hosed (as well as the art community because the cut into the art grant budget), because a small population of BM just cant wait til they get to a proper place for disposing of their week’s MOOP. This is why we cant have nice things.

    So what is the plan for leaving our trash on the street when a dust storm might carry it just about anywhere.

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  • I hate to say it, but ABOUT FUCKING TIME. The sick piles of trash that accumulate are nothing short of depressing, and the amount of people who lust leave right after the burn without picking up their shit grows every year. This will save volunteers weeks and weeks of cleanup work.
    If this is an April Fools joke, then fuck off everyone.

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  • Finally! I was getting sick of that whole “L.N.T.” thing, anyway, having to fill up my RV with a week’s worth of empty Evian bottles and styrofoam McDonald’s containers only to toss ‘em onto the side of the road in Lovelock.

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  • Since we will be using nice, quiet plastic trash bags, I suggest that each DPW garbage truck continuously play a recording of giant metal trash bins being emptied noisily at the maximum permissible decibel level.

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  • History has proven that cities crumble without a structured means of cleanliness, and at 300 bucks a ticket you would think a waste disposal program would be the first on the list.

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  • This is great news. It says they are putting in curbs! That means we are finally going to get street cleaning trucks to brush, scrub and vacuum up all the dust in the streets! You go DPW!!

    Once we get curbs and paved roads we need a sewer system and that makes flush toilets next. Then we could sink a geothermal well and generate electricity for all and have a hot water supply. (Wait am I confusing this with Fly Ranch?)

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  • Haha, socialized waste disposal! Move to Europe! But imagine if one camp decided to be landfill camp, and just had a giant container to fill up…that would be one stinky camp, I’d stay far away.

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  • This is funny but it isn’t a joke when driving home after the burn when I see at every rest stop many many bags that have been irresponsibly ditched by burners. The real lazy people just leave then on the side of the road.

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  • Don’t be suprised come August if you find white trash bags set out by the street for collection by clueless people who don’t understand April 1 humor.

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  • In the same line of thought as Michael’s, it would be prudent for Will Chase to set the record straight TOMORROW… We don’t want people thinking the green truck with bunny years will collect the trash bags that they put outside.

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  • Look at the wording! It is an April Fool’s Day joke! NAC Chapter 444.5486 states that ” shall remove all solid waste from the site of the gathering within a reasonable time after the end of the gathering.” Keyword is “after.” This is not something new for us. With the campers removing most of the waste, they have never been able to remove everything. Which is why a team stays after to basically comb the desert. This effort made by the Post Burn Volunteers adheres to the standard set forth by Nevada, and at the same time permits the festival to make the Leave No Trace lifestyle engrained in the festival participants. It doesn’t seem that there has been a “nuisance” at the festival (unless you are camped downwind of the Port-A-Potties.) In fact, I have noticed more trash on the side of the road while driving to the festival. Maybe the effort we should make is helping clean outside of the gates. This was merely a clever joke, fellow Burners. And if not, it will be up to us Burn Veterans to instill the beliefs of LNT in the Burn Virgins. –Desert Flower @ Camp Spampirish

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  • HAHAHAHA! I love it.. got me for a second. and all the fuzz around it makes it the perfect April’s fool.
    But if its an issue, maybe we should create a solution ourselfs before this does happen.

    I’m with Johnny G.. LOL

    Johnny G Says:
    I’m still leaving some Blue Ribbon out…

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  • Actually, I think a better idea would be to issue one big bag per person that would be collected at the end of the event for free, then charge for all extra bags needed. Make some post burn bucks from lazy and wasteful campers to help support the event and keep the ticket price down

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  • I can just see the trash bags rolling across the Playa like plastic tumble weeds filled with _______… Though it sounds like a good idea, it’s probably the worst I’ve heard. Like camps that want to put up fences around themselves..

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  • perhaps we could just bus in lots of um, homeless people who would be glad to have all those plastic bottles and cans to turn in for money????

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  • Too bad the diesel fuel deliveries, the RV pump-outs, and the cops cruising are not a joke. That, or garbage collection – it’s only a matter of degree. Self-reliance my a**!

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  • As a former alcoholic I am personally offended that I have to buy PBR for a bunch of dusty rednecks just so I can go sit on my ass with my lawnchair and gawk at chicks boobs. Since I’ll be arriving on Friday with the other guys from the frat house I’ll only have to buy one 6 pack so that’s cool

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  • I am a member of the freemasons and we are planning to help subsidize this sanitation service. we accept hippies, white rastas, haters and loud drunk women as well as men who masturbate to the sunrise screaming “burning man” while raising a dixie cup of melted ice.

    fornicators….

    mr. pepper

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  • Hook, Line, and Sinker!

    Even went as far as writing a little essay to my campmates on the impact of this news on the psyche of personal responsibility and how it will be the undoing of Leave no Trace…until one of them told me to check the date. I love how you guys really know how to stir the pot with a plausable prank that gets to the heart of matters!!!!

    Anyway, I’m still disheartened by all the crap piling the side of the highway during exodus. We have got to keep working on that. You know those one-word signs that tell a story as everyone is arriving at the gate? How about a set of similar signs during exodus that really impress upon people that “leave no trace” includes THIS ROAD, RIGHT NOW!! ??

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  • In my opinion every school should take to show how crops cultivation take place ,so they can understand how much time and pain people are taking in cultivating crops.

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