Is Dumpster Diving Illegal In Australia? 🗑️: In this blog, we answer the question of whether or not dumpster diving is illegal in Australia. But first, we define the term ‘dumpster diving’ and state why plenty of people do it. 


Quite recently, a social media trend surfaced wherein people would ‘dumpster dive’ through a random rubbish bin in hopes of finding useful objects.

Hearing the news suddenly made me recall a conversation I had with my close friend about rummaging through other people’s rubbish. According to him, dumpster diving provides no harm as those who do it do not bother other people and “Come on, Jordan – it’s rubbish! There’s a reason that person already threw them away. He/she doesn’t need them anymore, so it’s fair game! At least the rubbish won’t make it to landfill.”

However, as someone quite well-versed with anything waste-related, I thought otherwise. The law thought otherwise, as well. Not only does it bring a lot of dangers to an individual, but it can also get one some jail time.

The main question is, is dumpster diving illegal in Australia? Or, is it allowed? What are the reasons people dumpster dive in the first place? And lastly, what are the dangers of dumpster diving? Below, we will answer all of those questions.


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Yes, dumpster diving is illegal in Australia

First and foremost, what is dumpster diving?

Dumpster diving, in layman’s terms, simply means the act of digging through other’s rubbish to find something of value. For example, a ‘dumpster diver’ might find an item of high value and sell it for money.

Others, on the other hand, have even gotten tonnes of still-fresh, still-edible and (allegedly) still-tasty food from the food waste bins of food businesses. Ever heard of the term ‘freeganism‘? This is the practice of acquiring, eating and giving away food that has already been discarded. This has become quite a trend lately. There is even an existing Facebook page called The Melbourne Freegan Co-op that has members updating news on where they can haul discarded food and share with each other.

These are the two main reasons why people dumpster dive, in general. It seems good and all, one might think. But, we highly discourage you from doing this if you plan to do so.

rubbish bins

Other countries’ laws varies in regards to dumpster diving, but know that an individual cannot do this in Australia. Each council’s laws vary, but the general consensus is that it is not allowed. Unfortunately, even with already-implemented strict laws regarding dumpster diving, a lot of people still do it. Even if dumpster diving is illegal in Australia, you will still see a lot of news about it.


Containers for Change: bandits’ rummaging

In our blog on Perth cans and bottles recycling, we covered everything one needs to know about Containers for Change, a program that lets you earn some cash by turning in cans or bottles. This is a good way to earn some cash on the side if you have some few spare cans or bottles lying around. Or, kids can put some money in their piggy banks whilst also doing their part to help the environment.

However, Containers for Change also produced residential troublemakers – the dumpster divers.  Various incidents have already been reported that pertains to individuals going through other’s rubbish. According to Perth Now:

The Town of Victoria Park received two complaints within the first month of the scheme launching and says it continues to receive contact from ratepayers over the issue.

Plenty of complaints have already surfaced and people were scared for their safety and privacy. The mayor, Karen Vernon, implemented strict guidelines and hefty fines for those will break the dumpster diving law.

Mayor Karen Vernon said anyone caught bin diving would likely receive a warning first, but repeat offenders risked a $100 fine for a first offence, $200 for a second offence and $500 for third and subsequent offences.


Dumpster diving in Australia: illegal and dangerous

As I have mentioned already, we strongly discourage anyone and everyone from dumpster diving. Not only is it illegal, but it is also dangerous. We will elaborate and state some reasons further below on why you should not do it.

Dumpster diving equates to trespassing. How would you like it if someone came to your backyard without your permission? Creepy and disturbing, right? That is also the case with dumpster diving. As rubbish bins are usually located inside the private property of a resident, one who decides to go and dumpster dive there is guilty of trespassing and is subject to complaint and even sanction.

Dumpster diving is akin to stealing. Even if the resident has already disposed of their items in rubbish bins, the items inside are technically still theirs as they are still in their private property.

Dumpster diving is dangerous and can leave you injured. Some might think that dumpster diving is easy, but it is actually not. Larger bins can leave you with some nasty injuries if you decide to do so (which, of course, we highly discourage – even prohibit) and not tread lightly.  You might hit your head with the bin lid, fall into it, get trapped by it and more. Bins also have rusty, sharp metals that can cut you and leave you with an infection. What’s more, you might even pick up a viral or bacterial infection!


Dumpster diving is illegal in Australia, so don’t do it!

Now that plenty of people have read this blog, we hope this discourages and stops those people who plan to do this to make a living. It has more cons than pros, that much we want to say to you readers.


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