What is Illegal Dumping?

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  • Written By: Felicia Dye
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 January 2020
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Illegal dumping is a global problem that arises from the unauthorized disposal of unwanted materials. Examples of items that are illegally discarded include automobile parts, industrial waste, and household garbage. Illegal dumping can create numerous problems, including higher taxes and contaminated water supplies. As a result, there are often penalties such as fines and the threat of incarceration to discourage this type of behavior.

Many of the items that are illegally discarded are products whose disposal is subject to regulation. For example, in many jurisdictions, tires and engine oil cannot be discarded in the same manner as general household waste. These items must be taken to specific places, and there are often disposal fees required to get rid of them. This inconvenience is noted as one of the reasons why some people engage in illegal dumping.

Another noted cause of illegal dumping is the lack of sufficient waste disposal services. In some places, individuals and businesses can easily get rid of almost any type of waste. There may be service providers who will travel to those in need and collect the unwanted items, or the individuals may have sites accessible nearby where such items can be left. In other places, however, such services may not be available at all, or they may be difficult to access, which can encourage illegal disposal of garbage.


Illegal dumping often becomes an environmental and public safety issue. Materials such as chemicals and industrial waste are hazardous to living organisms. People often discard these items in places where they believe that the waste will be easily hidden, such as in a body of water. The result is that humans, animals, and plants can get sick or even be killed due to the contamination. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), severe illnesses such as encephalitis and dengue fever have been attributed to disease-carrying mosquitoes originating from scrap tire piles.

A community can also be affected by illegal dumping in other ways. Properties surrounding one that contains abandoned garbage are likely to experience decreasing value if the problem is not promptly addressed. Correcting the issue commonly requires financial resources and can be very expensive in some cases. When governments are stuck with the financial burden, these costs may be passed on to the taxpayers.

In some places, there are notable penalties for those who are convicted of illegal dumping. Fines are commonly imposed, and these can be hefty depending on the type and amount of material involved. A person may be arrested and incarcerated. Materials used to facilitate the crime, such as trucks and trailers, may be confiscated, and in some instances may be sold to offset the costs of cleanup.


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Post 3

Another form of illegal dumping is quite heartbreaking but it happens all the time. I volunteer at the local animal shelter and animals get dumped outside it all the time, or are brought in by people who rescued them from the roadside.

Often they were literally thrown out the window of a moving car. I mean, how disgusting do you have to be to deal with an animal like that? Especially when the shelter will take the animal in if you are willing to surrender it. Just be an adult and take it in so that it can find someone willing to give it the home it deserves.

Post 2

@Fa5t3r - I don't like that people do this but I can understand it, to be honest. It can be very expensive to dump rubbish at a local dump and if you've got a new baby, for example, you might end up feeling overwhelmed by the amount of garbage they create.

I could see a young family who had no idea how to deal with their rubbish and no money to just take a trip to the rubbish dump, dealing with it by throwing it away on a road trip or something.

It's the industries that really annoy me. They aren't motivated by desperation. Only poor planning and greed. And they cause far more damage than a bit of littering does. It's just that one is much more visible to the larger majority of the population.

Post 1

This is always so gross and it really makes me angry that people do this. Often it's just pure laziness too. But no one is going to clean up after them if they just dump it in a wild place. It will sit there forever and create a health hazard and a huge eye sore.

The worse is when it is something like baby diapers which are not at all biodegradable and are obviously a vector for disease.

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