Scavenging: It's Against the Law

The City of Vancouver's Solid Waste Team occasionally receives questions and concerns about scavenging, particularly in areas where recycling is set out the night before collection. Here are some facts and tips to help answer those questions for residents within Vancouver.

• As stated in VMC 6.12.216, scavenging of recyclables (or solid waste) is against the law.

• A person must ask the homeowner for permission before removing recyclables from a container.

• If you see someone taking recyclables, please call 3-1-1 and report it as a "theft of recyclables." If the person is using a vehicle, please write down the license plate number and a description of the vehicle. Always exercise caution and consider your personal safety. Do not confront the individual.

• If the suspects have come and gone, you may call 360-487-7355 or file a report online at Please note, limited budget resources prevent a direct response to scavenging reports. This information will be kept with other records to monitor trends and provide information to patrol.

• Use Vancouver Solid Waste’s Smart Tips to reduce the likelihood that someone may be interested in your recyclables.

→ Set recyclables out the morning of collection, between 6 and 6:30 a.m., if possible. Carts need to be in place and ready for pickup by 6:30 a.m.  But leaving them out all night makes it easier for scavengers and thieves. 

→ Always shred or tear scrap paper that has personal identity or financial information and put inside paper bags in your recycling cart. This will prevent thieves from stealing your identity or using your financial  information.

→ Get to know your neighbors!  

Thank you for watching out for your community!