Author Options:

Question about dumpster diving in Tennessee Answered

Anyone know if it's legal in Tennessee? I keep calling the police but they just keep saying no instantally. Best as i can they they are assuming I'm looking to steal ID's or meth supplies (big probs with that here). I don't mind the risk of getting yelled at the the store guys but i don't want to get arrested. Also I'm not dumb enough to dig around in private dumpsters here, I'd sooner get arrested than shot to pieces LOL :P



3 months ago

I am a newby, is there a way to find out trash pick up schedule for stored without stalking the dumpster? And the best places to go in the Nashville area.


9 months ago

This should answer your question. Unless that state specifically declares it is illegal in their state, it is legal.


12 months ago

As a seasoned dumpster diver, I can tell you that I have never had and issues with the police. A few store owners would run me off, but most did not seem to mind. On more than one occasion, a policeman asked what I was doing and I showed him things that I have found. He pretty much said "cool" and let me continue. Some stores intentionally damage items before throwing them away. I despise this wasteful practice as see no reason useable items could not be donated


2 years ago

I asked a sargent in the kpd retired and he said it is legal unless no tresspassing signs are present


4 years ago

I was wondering the same thing after seeing the story of the guy who makes lots of money dumpster diving in Texas. So I checked out the local laws of my area and I found this:









17-101. Refuse defined.

17-102. Premises to be kept clean.

17-103. Storage.

17-104. Location of containers.

17-105. Disturbing containers.

17-106. Collection.

17-107. Collection vehicles.

17-108. Disposal.

17-101. Refuse defined. Refuse shall mean and include garbage, rubbish, leaves, brush, and refuse as those terms are generally defined except that dead animals and fowls, body wastes, hot ashes, rocks, concrete, bricks, and similar materials are expressly excluded therefrom and shall not be stored therewith. (1972 Code, § 8-101)

17-102. Premises to be kept clean. All persons within the City of Decherd are required to keep their premises in a clean and sanitary condition, free from accumulations of refuse except when stored as provided in this chapter. (1972 Code, § 8-102)

17-103. Storage. Each owner, occupant, or other responsible person using or occupying any building or other premises within this city where refuse accumulates or is likely to accumulate, shall provide and keep covered an adequate number of refuse containers of a type and design approved by the city recorder, but in no event will metal oil drums be used. The refuse containers shall be strong, durable, and rodent and insect proof. They shall each have a capacity of not less than twenty (20) nor more than thirty-two (32) gallons, except that this maximum capacity shall not apply to larger containers which the city handles mechanically. Furthermore, except for containers which the


1 Municipal code reference

Property maintenance regulations: title 13.


city handles mechanically, the combined weight of any refuse container and its contents shall not exceed seventy-five (75) pounds. No refuse shall be placed in a refuse container until such refuse has been drained of all free liquids. Tree trimmings, hedge clippings, and similar materials shall be cut to a length not to exceed four (4) feet and shall be securely tied in individual bundles weighing not more than seventy-five (75) pounds each and being not more than two (2) feet thick before being deposited for collection. (1972 Code, § 8-103)

17-104. Location of containers. Where alleys are used by the city refuse collectors, containers shall be placed on or within six (6) feet of the alley line in such a position as not to intrude upon the traveled portion of the alley. Where streets are used by the city refuse collectors, containers shall be placed adjacent to and back of the curb, or adjacent to and back of the ditch or street line if there is no curb, at such times as shall be scheduled by the city for the collection of refuse therefrom. As soon as practicable after such containers have been emptied they shall be removed by the owner to within, or to the rear of, his premises and away from the street line until the next scheduled time for collection. (1972 Code, § 8-104)

17-105. Disturbing containers. No unauthorized person shall uncover, rifle, pilfer, dig into, turn over, or in any other manner disturb or use any refuse container belonging to another. This section shall not be construed to prohibit the use of public refuse containers for their intended purpose. (1972 Code, § 8-105)

17-106. Collection. All refuse accumulated within the corporate limits shall be collected, conveyed, and disposed of under the supervision of such officer as the city council shall designate. Collections shall be made regularly in accordance with an announced schedule. (1972 Code, § 8-106)

17-107. Collection vehicles. The collection of refuse shall be by means of vehicles with beds constructed of impervious materials which are easily cleanable and so constructed that there will be no leakage of liquids draining from the refuse onto the streets and alleys. Furthermore, all refuse collection vehicles shall utilize closed beds or such coverings as will effectively prevent the scattering of refuse over the streets or alleys. (1972 Code, § 8-107)

17-108. Disposal. The disposal of refuse in any quantity by any person in any place, public or private, other than at the site or sites designated for refuse disposal by the city council is expressly prohibited. (1972 Code, § 8-108)

So that tells me it's not legal where I live, but not sure about anywhere else. So my advice, just don't get caught.


4 years ago

I cant seem to find out either as to whether or not its legal


10 years ago

The U.S. Supreme Court in California v. Greenwood has held that warrantless searches of trash are legal. This is commonly interpreted as meaning that trash, once placed out for collection, is "public domain."

Dumpsters located on private property are another matter -- anti-trespassing ordinances may legitimately be invoked.

Lithium Rain

10 years ago

I don't think it's illegal. Check the ordinances in your local area. Apparently they do it in Nashville. But go to your community's website and check. If there's no law on the books, go for it!

And yeah, definitely stay away from private cans. =O

skunkbaitLithium Rain

Reply 10 years ago

I'm pretty sure Adrian's right. But if a cop approaches you, be forthright. Then if he tells you it's illegal, be apologetic. Later, when there's no chance of getting in trouble, ask a cop WHICH statute makes it illegal.