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Bargain-Hunting: Is Dumpster Diving Legal in Alberta, Canada?

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Is dumpster diving legal in Alberta, Canada?

Is dumpster diving legal in Alberta, Canada?

It is legal to dumpster dive in Alberta, Canada, but as with any law, there are a few stipulations to know. Dumpster diving is legal in Alberta so long as the garbage can is not on someone's private property. Property owners are protected under Albertan law so that trespassers face legal consequences for their actions if dumpster diving on their property.

So, why do Albertans want to go dumpster diving in the first place? Alberta is considered a wasteful province in Canada, and some Canadians are trying to reduce waste by picking through dumpster bins and finding valuable items in things people throw away. Rummaging through a back-alley dumpster might seem dirty or desperate, but something considered worthless to one person may be of great importance or value to someone else. It's proving to be a valuable pastime for bargain hunters across Canada as Albertans legally discover many precious treasures.

Dumpster Diving and Canadian Law

Wikipedia documented a recent case in Canada, where a police officer recovered a discarded weapon from a waste receptacle as evidence. The story caused quite some controversy. The judge ruled the policeman's actions as legal even though he did not have a warrant. Since then, Canadian citizens have been more curious about the legality of raiding garbage disposal units.

In Alberta, the The Trespass Statutes (Protecting Law-abiding Property Owners) Act has been put in place to legally protect owners from criminal trespassers. The existence of the Act is probably good reason to determine that dumpster diving is illegal in Alberta, when on private property.

Examples of Dumpster Diving Treasures

Now that you know the legal circumstances surrounding dumpster diving legalities in Alberta, you may be eager to go out and try it for yourself. Here are some of the things you might expect to find in a local dumpster unit, and some ways that they might prove useful or valuable:

Expired Packaged Food

When it comes to dumpster diving, expired packaged food is one of the best things to find. Often, this food is still edible and can be consumed without any health risks. Dumpster divers often find cans of food well beyond the expiration date and still in good condition.

Why is this good? Because of the way expiration dates are calculated, a lot of food is disposed of before it has a chance to become inedible. For example, many foods have a "sell-by" date rather than an expiration date. The store is legally required to remove the food from its shelves by the sell-by date, but it doesn't mean it is no longer safe to eat.

Dumpster divers can take advantage of this by finding expired packaged food in dumpsters and bringing it home for free. This food can then be consumed or donated to a local charity or soup kitchen.

Broken Household Appliances

When it comes to broken household appliances, the expression "One man's trash is another man's treasure" is especially true. While a brand-new stainless steel refrigerator might set you back a few thousand dollars, a fully working refrigerator that's just been disposed of because it has a broken door could be yours for the taking – if you know where to look.

That's because broken appliances still have plenty of life left in them and can often be fixed with just a little bit of TLC. All you need is a repairman who knows his way around electronics and some basic tools. So before you buy a new appliance, take a walk around your neighborhood and see if anyone is throwing away one that's barely broken. You might be able to fix it by yourself and save some money.

Books and Magazines

Dumpster diving is not only a great way to find food and appliances. It is also a great way to find books and magazines. Many people throw these away without thinking about how someone could use them. You can usually find many types of books and magazines in a dumpster, so it is worth taking the time to look. After you've finished reading, you could donate them to a local charity or library and extend their life even further.

Cardboard boxes are one of the most commonly thrown-away items

Cardboard boxes are one of the most commonly thrown-away items

Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes are one of the most commonly thrown-away items in North America, but they can also be one of the most valuable. That's because cardboard is a recyclable material that is used to make a variety of different products.

For example, recycled cardboard can be turned into new cardboard boxes, paper towels, toilet paper, and even clothing. So, if you're looking for a way to save some money, start by raiding your local dumpster for some free cardboard boxes. You might be surprised at what you find.

Children's Toys

It is legal to dumpster-dive in Alberta for children's toys. You may be able to find some great treasures in the garbage! Remember to clean and sanitize the toys before handing them down to your children or donating them. You should also check for any broken pieces that may cause harm to a child.

Bring new life to children's toys

Bring new life to children's toys


There are so many things you could find in your local dumpster. Televisions, computers, furniture, clothing, and so much more could be had for free if you're willing to do some rummaging, cleaning, sorting and mending. With so much stuff being thrown away every day, there are plenty of treasures to be found for those who know where to look. And now that you know that dumpster diving is legal in Alberta, Canada, Just make sure you're not on private property and go ahead and do some bargain-hunting!

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Louise Fiolek