State of Illinois
Pat Quinn, Governor
Illinois Environmental Protection Agency
Doug Scott, Director
Prevention of Illegal Dumping in Illinois
We have all seen illegal dumping – fly dumping of bags of trash, old mattresses or appliances thrown down a stream bank, piles of construction debris or tires left on an empty city lot or even on private property. Illegal dumping affects the quality of life for citizens who live near the dumping locations. How can we prevent this criminal act?
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (Illinois EPA), the Office of the Illinois Attorney General (OIAG), the Illinois Departments of Public Health (IDPH), Natural Resources (IDNR) and Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), as well as county, township and municipal enforcement authorities and elected officials are linking strategies to fight these unsightly blights on our communities that may present a threat to public health or the environment as well as a potentially negative impact on area property values.
What is the state law regarding illegal dumping?
Section 21 of the Illinois Environmental Protection Act (“Act”), 415 ILCS 5/21, prohibits the open dumping of waste. Sections 44(a) and 44(p)(1)(A) provide for the classification of illegal dumping to be either a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 4 felony. In addition, Section 47-5 of the Illinois Criminal Code provides that dumping garbage, rubbish, refuse or trash on someone else’s property without their consent is a Class B misdemeanor for the first offense, a Class A misdemeanor for the second offense and a Class 4 felony for the third or subsequent offense.
Are there county or municipal laws or ordinances that also deal with this issue?
Yes. Counties and municipalities may have local ordinances that expressly prohibit open dumps and unpermitted landfills. Most have ordinances that prohibit maintaining a nuisance that can apply to an accumulation of solid waste materials or tires.
Which authorities may enforce against illegal dumping?
All law enforcement officers are authorized and obligated to administer and enforce the provisions explained in the first response (above).
That includes local police, county sheriffs, Illinois State Police and Illinois Conservation Police, state’s attorneys, local zoning and code enforcement offices, county health and solid waste departments, as well as the Illinois EPA and the Office of the Illinois Attorney General.
Is it better for taxpayers to prevent illegal dumping rather than to clean it up after it occurs?
Yes. Prevention could be the small cost of better informing citizens with public service announcements, flyers and hotline numbers versus hundreds of thousands of tax dollars to clean up a complex site with illegally dumped tires, chemicals, construction and demolition debris and general refuse.