Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Maine?
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
As the old saying goes, one person's trash is another person's treasure. Typically that phrase is used at yard sales as people are peddling old or used items that no longer seem useful to them. But there are other ways to get your hands on that next DIY project. For the super thrifty and creative, that may include looking inside dumpsters for something that was tossed away. But is it legal to dumpster dive in Maine?
Dumpster Diving Is Legal In Maine...With Conditions
According to Waste Advantage, there's no explicit Maine law that forbids dumpster diving. Part of the reason no sweeping law exists is because Maine is one of only 10 states in the country that has a bottle refund to encourage recycling. That's why you may have encountered an individual rummaging through gas station or public trash cans looking for refundable bottles with no repercussions. It's technically dumpster diving.
If You're Going To Dumpster Dive, Know Your Surroundings
As stated above, there's no sweeping law in Maine that forbids dumpster diving. But individual towns and cities as well as private property owners CAN outlaw dumpster diving. For instance, if you're climbing fences, decoding locks, or generally "breaking in" to any dumpster, you're likely going to find yourself in some trouble. Additionally, if a "No Trespassing" sign is posted in plain sight, that also makes the dumpster a private property entity. Disregarding the signage could lead to criminal charges.
Why Would Anyone Want To Dumpster Dive?
Treasures galore. Dumpster diving hasn't become an issue in Maine, but in other states, it's nearly become a sport. Several years ago, multiple cities in Texas had to crack down on dumpster diving behind Ulta stores after tossed away makeup was being fought over by teenage girls. Many big box chain stores around the country toss away damaged or returned items, leaving savvy divers with big rewards. The risk remains high. Be smart and be careful.