Is it illegal in New Jersey to throw trash into a neighbor’s can?
Have you ever done this or had someone do it to you? You pass by a neighbor's trash can and toss a coffee cup or banana peel into it? Or maybe a neighbor's bin is full so they put a trash bag into YOUR bin? In the state of New Jersey, are these illegal acts?
Well, yes and no.
In New Jersey it is illegal to dump large quantities of something or just throw a couch or mattress anywhere you please. You can't just ditch car parts, tires or medical waste on the side of the road or in a vacant lot, or even in some random business dumpster.
But what if I'm out for a stroll and I happen to have a small item, a tissue or an empty soda bottle and pass by a neighbor's garbage can? Can I put it into someone else's bin even if it's residential? And what if the can is on their driveway and not in the street?
This inquiry is taking some research with results that are vague and dance around the issue but have not gotten me very far. I'm hoping for a very specific yes or no answer. I even tried reaching out to the ACUA in Egg Harbor Township and other waste management facilities and seemed to have perplexed them with the question.
What I've discovered so far.
New Jersey differentiates between what is considered illegal dumping' and what is deemed as littering. They are two different offenses with different consequences, according to Bronzino Law Firm.
Illegal dumping is the improper disposal of large amounts of waste (biohazards, electronics, auto parts, etc.)
Littering in New Jersey is different, referencing improper disposal of small quantities.
The penalties: Illegal dumping vs. littering.
The minimum fine for illegal dumping in NJ is $2,500 or could go as high as $50,000. There is also a possibility of losing one's driver's license or having their car impounded.
Penalties for littering aren't as harsh, with fines starting at $100. For a repeat offender, though, steeper fines are possible as is jail time if convicted.
So, what about putting your trash in a neighbor's can?
While I cannot find anything concrete to say it would be illegal, a post on disboard.com DID catch my attention and could be RIGHT ON. You're not supposed to borrow your neighbors can because the property owner would be liable for what is in the bin.
That makes sense if it's a trash container provided by a township or county, I'm just wondering if the same thought applies to a neighbor who owns their own can. And what if it's in the street vs. just at the end of their driveway, technically on their property?
About one minute into a video posted by Angela Brown Cleaning on YouTube, she says it's illegal when to put the trash into ANY receptacle you're not paying the bill for, including your neighbor's trash can.
Bottom line: While it may not be illegal in New Jersey to toss your trash into a neighbor's can, it's not very nice or neighborly, especially without permission.