Dumpster Diving: Legal or Illegal?

Dumpster Diving: Legal or Illegal? Know Your State’s Laws

Is Dumpster Diving Legal in the United States?

Dumpster diving, the practice of searching through trash receptacles for discarded items of value, has become a popular activity for many people in the United States.

However, the legality of dumpster diving varies by state and locality. In this post, we’ll explore which states allow dumpster diving and which states consider it illegal. ( please be aware that the laws can change at any given moment )

Legal States

In some states, dumpster diving is legal as long as it doesn’t interfere with the regular collection of trash or violate other local ordinances.

These states include:

  • Alaska
  • Arizona
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Illegal States

In other states, dumpster diving is considered illegal, either by state law or local ordinances.

These states include:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • Montana
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • South Dakota

It’s important to note that even in states where dumpster diving is legal, there may be limitations on what you can and cannot take.

Additionally, taking items from a dumpster located on private property without permission may still be considered theft.


In conclusion, the legality of dumpster diving varies by state and locality in the United States. Before engaging in dumpster diving, it’s important to research the laws in your area to avoid any legal trouble.

Additionally, it’s important to consider the ethical implications of the practice and take precautions to protect your health when engaging in dumpster diving.

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