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  • Writer's pictureBrad Keating

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Ohio?

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Right off the bat, we can say that dumpster diving is not illegal in Ohio. That doesn't mean, though, that each trash can someone sees in the state is fair game. Not all of the cities in Ohio operate under the same exact guidelines. Therefore, it may be a good idea to dive into the municipal code before people dumpster dive anywhere. Even if dumpster diving is legal in a particular area, in order to get to where the dumpster is located, a person may have to cross private property. If someone has to do some trespassing, then they are breaking the law!

Dumpster Diving Laws in Ohio

Local Dumpster Diving In Ohio

As we mentioned, each area could have particular laws and regulations as far as dump diving goes. Let's take Zanesville, Ohio as an example. Is dumpster diving illegal in Zanesville Ohio? Zanesville actually does have some pretty clear guidelines as far as dumpster diving goes. The municipal code states that "Once your recyclable material is placed on your curb line or alley collection site it becomes the property of Zanesville. No one is allowed to collect it but the city sanitation employee. Anyone taking recyclables will be given a citation for the theft of city property". Many of the cities in Ohio could have similar codes. This makes diving illegal in a variety of instances.

Are There Fewer Restrictions On Dumpster Diving In Other States?

Dumpster diving is technically legal in all 50 states. In 1988, the case known as the State of California v Greenwood reached the Supreme Court. The court ruled that searching trash is legal. The problem is it's legal unless local governments say otherwise. Since this ruling, most areas have created some form of regulations regarding dumpster diving. This has certainly left most dumpster divers with very little wiggle room in most counties. Yet, there are places where the laws are still a bit more lenient.

Is It Illegal to Dumpster Dive at Walmart?

If someone is looking for a good place to dumpster dive, Walmart could be one of the places that is high on the list. Technically, it's not illegal to dumpster dive per se, but as was mentioned before, though most cities have taken it upon themselves to set up guidelines that discourage people from doing a dumpster dive. Places like Walmart might put dumpsters behind locked doors with private property signs. In most parts of the country, doing that effectively makes dumpster diving illegal.

Can Someone Get Into Trouble for Dumpster Diving?

For people who love the thrill of a good dumpster dive, and other folks who may be doing this out of necessity, the risk could be worth the reward. The truth is, a person could find themselves in quite some trouble if they dumpster dive in the wrong place. In our example, above, the penalty for removing recyclable materials from dumpsters is a citation for the theft of city property. In all likelihood, a person might be hit with some form of trespassing charges. If there is an altercation with police in this whole ordeal, something that would be overly simple can go south very quickly. If an individual is going to make the decision to do this, they better know what they could be getting into!

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal In Ohio In Practice?

It can be illegal in practice even though it technically shouldn't, according to Ohio criminal law. Is there a way that a person could make this legal or manage the risks better? Sure, they could look for particular cities that have more lax codes when it comes to this practice. More often than not though most people are going to find that there are regulations against garbage hunting of any kind.

If you have ever wondered if it is illegal to go to Helltown, Ohio or if it is illegal to blow grass into the street in Ohio, The Keating Firm LTD. can answer all of your criminal law questions.

Disclaimer: The details included in this blog is offered for educational purposes only, and should not be taken as lawful guidance in any way. No recipients of material from this blog, clients or otherwise, should or should not act on the basis of any material consisted in the blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional guidance on the particular facts and situations at issue from an attorney accredited in the recipient's state.


david kane
david kane
Apr 17

Penalty Shooters 2 breathes new life into the traditional penalty shootout concept. This concept of content looks at the fundamentals of the game and provides advice on how to prevail in penalty shootouts.


Apr 06, 2023

There must be a separate place to throw that trash, you can't throw it anywhere. Whether it's car junk or the junk of your home, it must be thrown properly to the junkyard.


Aug 30, 2022

In Belmont County, if the cops are called out to a location where you are diving, even if it isn’t under No Trespassing signs, they will find some way to at least cite you ..if not worse!

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