Think Before You Dump: Guide to the Laws and Penalties About Illegal Dumping

In 2016, the City of Chicago alone spent $1.5 million cleaning up unlawfully-disposed waste. All that trash collected from 4,000 illegal dump spots weighed a total of 32,000 tons.

What’s even worse is that many of these dumped items are hazardous. So, not only do they contribute to land and air pollution, but they can also result in health problems.

That’s why you must know how the State of Illinois defines illegal dumping. This way, you can avoid breaking the law, or, in case someone dumps trash on your property, make them liable.

Ready to learn all about unlawful dumping in the Prairie State? Then let’s get this guide started!

What Is Illegal Dumping?

Illegal dumping also goes by the name “fly dumping.” Either way, it’s the act of dumping any kind of waste material or trash on public or private property. Such activities do not have permission from the Department of Public Health.

Is Unlawful Dumping Considered a Criminal Activity?

Unlawful trash dumping is a violation of the Environmental Protection Act (415 ILCS 5/). Such illegal activities can either be a Class A misdemeanor or a more severe Class 4 felony.

There are also specific classifications of illegal dumping on private properties in Illinois. For instance, the state may charge first-time offenders with a Class B misdemeanor. The second offense would become a Class A misdemeanor, while a third will be a Class 4 felony.

On top of all these are the local city, county, or municipality ordinances. Chicago, for instance, is very active when it comes to prosecuting illegal dumpers. It’s a joint effort between the CPD, the CDPH, and the Department of Streets and Sanitation.

Why Is Illegal Dumping Such a Big Deal?

There are many causes of land pollution, but illegal waste disposal is one of the primary ones. However, they have a more profound impact than just being unsanitary. Environmental elements can degrade these wastes and cause them to leach toxic substances.

The poisonous compounds that they introduce to the soil can then affect vegetation. When it rains, the chemicals mix with rainwater and contaminate water formations too. In addition, people can get sick when exposed to such dangerous substances.

Much of the waste in dumpsites are also combustible, and when they do catch fire, the flames can be hard to control. There are even cases of “spontaneous combustion” in secured landfills. If these occur in legitimate facilities, they’re more likely in unguarded dumpsters.

Illegal dumpsites are also a haven for vermin and pest. Malaria- and dengue-bringing mosquitoes, for instance, can start breeding in these spots. In fact, about 2,000 new cases of malaria occur in the US every year.

These are just a few of the dangers that illegal dumping activities can result in. However, they should be enough for you to understand why it’s such a huge deal to the authorities.

What Are the Penalties That Illegal Dumpers Face?

On a state-level, illegal dumpers must pay a fine of no less than $500. Misdemeanor charges can also come with up to 300 hours of required community service. Class 4 felonies are much more severe, as they can have an additional fine of up to $25,000 per day of violation.

If the charges include littering, it’s also possible to face a jail term of one up to three years.

On a local level, Chicago has among the most stringent laws regarding illegal dumping. The city imposes a $1,500 minimum fine, plus imprisonment for up to six months for the first offense.

In addition, Chicagoland typically requires offenders up to 200 hours of community service. If the perpetrator uses a vehicle to move the trash to the dumpster, then that car would get impounded. The motor vehicle’s owner would have to pay for all the impoundment fees.

Also, note that Chicago takes illegal dumping so seriously that it runs a reward program. This encourages residents to be active in watching out for and reporting dumpers. Qualified reporters can then receive a $100 award from the municipal government.

The Role of the Municipal or City Garbage Collectors

The local garbage collectors are there to pick up any regular household waste. The keyword here is “regular,” so there are still limits to what they can collect, even if the items come from your home. They will, however, take away stuff like food left-overs, grass, plastic, glass, and paper.

What the garbage collection team won’t pick up are household hazardous wastes (HHW). These are usually chemicals like paints, varnishes, oils, batteries, pesticides, and cleaners. Even expired medications shouldn’t go into your trash bags.

Also, most municipalities have regulations on electronic waste (e-waste). City collectors often don’t pick up anything that runs on battery or electricity.

Your Special Waste Disposal Options

If you’re planning a home or even just a room decluttering project, you’re likely to end up with a lot of HHW. You’ll have even more trash to deal with if you’re about to carry out home improvements or repairs. All these activities can create humongous amounts of junk and waste materials.

In such cases, consider working with a professional cleaning and disposal service. These are experts not only when it comes to cleanouts but also the actual removal of waste from your home. They’ll even help you figure out which furniture or electronics you can sell or recycle.

Most importantly, these professionals carry proper waste disposal licenses. They will make sure your household waste never ends up in an illegal dumpster. They will also utilize appropriate handling procedures for hazardous wastes.

Proper Waste Disposal Helps Make the World a Cleaner Place

As you can see, illegal dumping is so detrimental to humans and the environment. That’s why states and local ordinances exist, and also why such laws are very stringent.

So, do yourself and the rest of the world a favor: be sure to practice proper waste disposal. If you see anyone in the act of dumping stuff illegally, report it to the authorities.

If you need help cleaning out your home and hauling away junk, know that the Orange Crew can come to your rescue. Please feel free to get in touch with us so we can assist you with all your waste disposal needs!

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