Is It Illegal from Someone to Go Through Your Trash in Massachusetts?
Massachusetts residents are no strangers to laws, rules, and regulations.
When it comes to what you can do, when you can do it, and where, and of course, how much it's going to cost you, folks who live in Massachusetts know there are always a fair amount of ordinances to abide by. Often times laws in Massachusetts can feel super restrictive, but the reality is many, if not most, of them, are here to benefit residents and the state as a whole.
Every week, when I put my trash and recycling out there, is a guy who comes by and picks through people's bins. Usually, he looks for returnables, bottles, cans, etc anything with a deposit. I'm not sure how other folks feel about it, but it certainly doesn't bother me. But it did get me thinking, I wonder if it's illegal to do so, just knowing how strict Massachusetts can be about so many things. The answer was somewhat surprising.
It is not illegal to pick through people's trash or "dumpster dive" in Massachusetts.
In most cases at least.
In Massachusetts, it is legal to go through the contents of other people's garbage in most circumstances. Unless your city or town has a specific ordinance against it (most do not) folks are free to pick through the bins on your curb as long as said person is also hearing to all other regulations and posted signs.
Circumstances where going through other people's trash or recycling would be ILLEGAL in Massachusetts if you were violating posted signage or trespassing to do so. There are also some municipalities that considered implementing fines for taking people's recycling because certain cities and towns have a recycling quota they have to hit, however, we couldn't find a record of any that carried out that possibility.