Is Dumpster Diving Illegal in Illinois?

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Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Illinois

When it comes to dumpster diving people ask if it’s illegal, or in this case is dumpster diving illegal in Illinois? According to California vs. Greenwood, the 1988 Supreme Court case, dumpster diving in general is not illegal, however, each city does have their own ordinances and they do have the right to ban dumpster diving in their own city.

What are the legalities of dumpster diving in Illinois?

This means that it is not illegal to dumpster dive in Illinois but there may be laws against it in certain municipalities and cities across the state.

Let’s look at the four biggest cities in Illinois and find out if dumpster diving is illegal in those cities.

Dumpster Diving Laws in Chicago

In doing the research we found some interesting results; it turns out that it is illegal to dumpster dive in the city of Chicago without a license. What this means for you is that you could be faced with hefty fines if you don’t obtain a license before you dive in.

It’s pretty simple, just follow the instructions on the application, provide all the information needed, and pay $250.00 for a two-year permit. When you think about it, that fee is so much cheaper than it could be if you were caught diving without the permit.

Although the licensing procedure is simple, you cannot apply for this license online and you will have to visit the Small Business Center in person. 

There are certain rules in the city that must be followed when dumpster diving and for further information you can visit the Chicago Department of Business licensing.

For More Information Contact:

The Small Business Center

City Hall

121- North LaSalle Street

Chicago, Illinois Room 800


Dumpster Diving Laws in Aurora

Is dumpster diving illegal in Aurora? Here we dive into the local ordinances.

Just like the city of Chicago, you will also need a license if you plan to dive into the dumpsters within the city limits of Aurora, Illinois. 

At $50.00 per year, that is better than getting caught without a license. Although the fee is only $50.00, that fee will only include one vehicle and you will be required to pay an additional $10.00 for each vehicle included on your permit.

You can find a form on the Aurora Revenue and Collection site, but before you begin to fill it out you will need to have your drivers license handy and you will need to fill in some other things such as your Social Security Number and your date of birth. Be sure you know the make, model, and year of the vehicle(s) you are going to list as well as the plate number of each one. 

Once you obtain a license for dumpster diving you will need to be sure it is kept in the vehicle you are using during your dive just in case you are approached by a police officer.

For More Information Contact:

The Department of Revenue and Collection

Monday- Friday 8:00- 5:00

44- E Downer Place

Aurora, Illinois


Dumpster Diving Laws in Rockford, Illinois

Is dumpster diving illegal in Rockford, Illinois? Here we dive into the local ordinances.

Rockford, Illinois also has strict rules when it comes to dumpster diving. If you plan to jump in looking for your next great find, you better be sure you’ve paid your dues because you will need a license in Rockford. You will also want to be sure that you display the appropriate sticker on the vehicle you’re using, or you could be setting yourself up for trouble.

The city of Rockford will require you to obtain a Scavenger and Waste Haulers license and you will need to read and understand codes 25.21- 25.36 before you begin your journey. The license fees change yearly but for the remainder of 2019 the fees are $63.00 plus an additional $3.00 per sticker for each vehicle that will be used. They will pro-rate the fees from the time your application is accepted, however, they will not refund any fees for applications that are not approved. 

You must fill out the application and then return it with your fees to the Payment Center located in City Hall. Be sure you have proper identification and know the vehicles you will be using so you can prepare to pay for a sticker for each one.

For More Information Contact:

The City of Rockford Customer Service Center

City Hall

425- E. State Street

1st Floor

Rockford, Illinois


Dumpster Diving Laws in Joliet

Is it illegal to dumpster dive in Joliet? Here we dive into the local ordinances.

Researching the city of Joliet was a bit more difficult but we did find out that you will need a license to dumpster dive in the city. The difficult part lies within the fees and which license you should apply for. The city of Joliet offers an application for junk peddlers and also for scavengers, so it will depend on what you intend to do with the treasures you collect. 

The application fees were also not clear, so you will want to contact business services for further information. 

We can tell you that you will need a photo ID, all information about the vehicle you will be using including the VIN number and the plate number. The permit isn’t transferrable, and you will always be required to display your license.

For More Information Contact:

Office of the City Clerk

Business Services

Monday- Friday 8:00- 4:30

150- West Jefferson Street

1st Floor

Joliet, Illinois


Final Thoughts

Now that you have read all this information it should be easier to answer your initial question; is dumpster diving illegal in Illinois? You should be able to understand that as a state it is legal, but there are laws in each city that prove otherwise.

You should always have a clear understanding of the laws in your area. Know where the dumpsters are located and if there are certain laws you should adhere to before diving in. If you’re required to purchase a license or temporary permit, you should oblige and not risk larger fines in the end.

Although you might have a permit that is visible, you should still respect no trespassing signs that are posted, never enter private property without permission, and don’t hop a fence to get to a dumpster. Only dive in dumpsters that are in open spaces, always choose a dumpster in a well-lit area, and never leave a mess.

Keep in mind that with or without a permit, you can still be charged with trespassing, littering, obstruction of the peace, disorderly conduct, and other charges and fines that are unnecessary. Dive with safety and concern for yourself and others.

Make sure you check out our article on where the best places to dumpster dive are.

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