Dumpster Diving in Utah (Ultimate Guide)

In 2019, about 35% of Utah’s discarded materials were recycled or composted, thanks to environmentally-conscious residents, including dumpster divers.

This practice, although unconventional, diverts waste from the landfill and extends the life cycle of items, giving them a second life. 

So, in this article I’ll walk you through the legal aspects of dumpster diving in Utah, best places, estimated earnings. 

Let’s dive in!

Dumpster Diving in Utah

Dumpster Diving in Utah

Utah, the beehive state, offers you an unexpected treasure trove for dumpster diving.

Utah’s dumpsters provide a unique exploration of consumer culture, and treasure hunting, from Salt Lake City’s commercial centers to Provo’s residential neighborhoods.

With over 200 cities, including bustling centers like Salt Lake City, Provo, and Ogden, Utah presents ample opportunity for dumpster divers. 

The state boasts over 5000 shopping centers and retail outlets, each potentially a gold mine for discarded items. 

The yearly turnover in Utah’s shopping centers is nearly 100 million items, many of which end up in dumpsters and are free for the taking. 

Utah offers unique opportunities for you; with its strong community spirit and recycling rate exceeding 30%.

Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Utah

While dumpster diving may seem like a harmless act to some, the legality varies by location. In Utah, the act of dumpster diving is not explicitly illegal. 

However, you should note that if the dumpsters are located on private property, it may be considered trespassing, which is against the law. 

According to Utah Code § 76-6-206, trespassing can result in a class B misdemeanor. 

Moreover, dumpster diving involves taking items that could be considered personal property, even if discarded, could have legal implications under the state’s theft laws. 

It’s worth mentioning that according to a Supreme Court ruling in California vs. Greenwood (1988), the police do not need a warrant to search trash left for pickup outside a home. 

While this case doesn’t directly cover dumpster diving, it suggests that once items are thrown away as trash, any expectation of privacy is lost.

Is Dumpster Diving Illegal at Night in Utah

In Utah, the legality of dumpster diving, particularly at night, can be somewhat murky and varies based on city ordinances. 

As per Utah state law, dumpster diving itself is not strictly illegal, but trespassing on private property is. 

An essential statistic to note is that approximately 30% of all trespassing charges in Utah come from dumpster diving incidents. 

Dumpster diving at night can pose safety risks such as unseen hazardous materials or confrontations due to reduced visibility. 

Also, if a dumpster is in an area with clear signage against trespassing, or behind a locked gate, you should stay away from it.

Best Places for Dumpster Diving in Utah

Utah offers a multitude of spots for dumpster diving enthusiasts; with its urban areas and suburban neighborhoods.

Salt Lake City, tops the list due to its diverse range of businesses and retail outlets, providing a fruitful hunt for discarded treasures. 

The city, as per the 2020 census, has a population of over 199,000, which leads to a higher frequency of discarded items. 

Provo, the third-largest city in Utah, is another promising location, especially around the Brigham Young University campus

Students often discard usable items, especially during move-out periods.

Within the city’s confines, over 116,000 residents contribute to the variety and quantity of potential finds. 

Best Time for Dumpster Diving

Typically, the most favorable period for dumpster diving in Utah is in the late spring to early fall, when weather conditions are more benign. 

But why this specific time, you might ask? 

Well, during these months, the average temperature in Utah ranges from a comfortable 70 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit, it reduces the risk of weather-related incidents. 

Also, the early morning and late evening, around the times of 6-8 AM and 6-8 PM, are prime times due to reduced foot traffic and the possibility of freshly discarded items. 

How Much Can I Earn from Dumpster Diving

The profitability of dumpster diving varies based on factors such as location, time investment, and your ability to sell the items you find.

It’s not uncommon for dedicated dumpster divers to make a few hundred dollars per month. 

For example, Matt Malone, a professional dumpster diver featured in a Wired article, stated he could make $250,000 a year if he did it full-time. 

However, these figures depend on finding high-value items like electronics or furniture in good condition, which isn’t always guaranteed. 

Selling these items through online marketplaces or yard sales can turn a tidy profit.

So, if you are planning to dumpster dive at Oregon, Vermont, Wisconsin, or Minnesota; first you should check the state laws before going to your hunt.

Is Dumpster Diving a Good Hobby?

While dumpster diving has gained popularity in recent years due to its potential for hidden treasures and reducing waste. 

In fact, a 2016 study by the EPA found that Americans discarded approximately 137.7 million tons of waste, with a significant percentage being items in good condition. 

This presents an opportunity for dumpster divers to salvage and repurpose seemingly unwanted items.

However, there are safety concerns, such as exposure to sharp objects, harmful chemicals, bacteria, or even confrontations with law enforcement. 

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