One Man’s Trash… Is It Illegal To Dumpster Dive In Iowa & Illinois?
One man's trash is another man's treasure. But, can you legally go take that man's trash and claim it as your treasure? It depends on where you and the trash/treasure are located.
We are used to dumpster divers at the Rock 'n' Roll Mansion.
Over the last 3 months, we've had a large dumpster in our parking lot as our studios are under construction. One would think with the massive amounts of junk we have in this building and all materials being tossed out on a daily basis because of the construction we would have needed that thing emptied numerous times. But, thanks to dumpster divers, it always stays at a good level.
We don't mind at all! We'd rather have you scrap the old wires and cabinets and turn them into something else than for them to go into a landfill. Just know that when you dive on in, you are on our security camera.
Now 99% of our diving friends have been totally fine. They dive in. Get their stuff into the truck. And move on. However, one fella kind of made a mess leaving stuff all around the dumpster and he left the door on the dumpster open. That's not cool. Didn't your mom teach you to clean up after yourself?
Most of the time we don't have a dumpster at the Rock 'n' Roll Mansion but we still know people will take our stuff. If there is ever something "broken" or we simply don't need it anymore we just take it out to the alley behind the building and it magically disappears.
Is dumpster diving illegal in Iowa?
So are these people breaking the law by dumpster diving in Iowa? Technically no, but kind of yes.
It is legal for people to go through trash and dumpsters that are in public areas and on the curb. It is however illegal to trespass on private property. Yeah, the Rock 'n' Roll Mansion is private property. So, in theory, we could press charges. But we won't. As mentioned, we'd rather you take it and reuse or resell it than see it go to a landfill.
So for divers, be careful. Not everybody might be cool like us. For those tossing things, just know once anything is tossed on the curb, it's fair game.
Is dumpster diving illegal in Illinois?
Illinois is about the same. Just like in Iowa, you can legally dumpster dive just not on private property. However, there are certain cities that have different rules and of course, fees.
In at least 4 major cities including Chicago, Aurora, Rockford and Joliet there are rules, permits and yes even fees that dumpster divers need to pay.
In Chicago, before you go and try to make some money collecting junk that others are sending to a landfill, the city first needs its money. You'll need to apply for a two-year permit that costs $250.
The Aurora fee is $50 per year. Rockford you'll need to pay $63 a year and get permit stickers for each vehicle at $3 a piece. You can check out more on these fees here and then for any city in Illinois, you might just want to check the local laws to see if you need to have a permit first.
Dive on in and reuse what you find.
For the most part dumpster divers are really on the up and up. They are looking for metals to scrap. Furniture to restore and resell. Tools and equipment they might be able to fix. Anything that they think they can recycle or resell to make a buck. This is way better than it ending up in a landfill.
However, there are those out there looking through garbage to find your personal information. This is, of course, in either a private or public area, completely illegal. These divers have not become smart enough to steal it off the internet so they still go old school in the dumpster.