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I have a bunch of miscellaneous stuff in my garage I want to get rid of. I have been meaning to take it to the dump but just haven't found the time. Items include

  • old sink

  • old toilet

  • miscellaneous boxes containing other empty boxes, old kids' toys that are broken, etc.

On a yard sale group on Facebook, someone is offering to pick it all up and dispose of it for roughly $50. That is what I have estimated it to be if I were to take it to the local dump myself.

Obviously I do not know the person but I suspect they have access to a large trash area at their workplace or other private property; they claim they have a legal means of dumping the items which I have not questioned further. I doubt it will be taken to the dump because there wouldn't be much profit in it for them.

Is it legal for me to go ahead and pay him to dispose of it? Am I open to legal repercussions for paying them to load up all my stuff if they disposed of it for me without going through the local dump? Would this count as me "selling" those old items and having no further responsibility for the items?

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    Where I live (Cleveland suburbs), I could get rid of most of this stuff for free by leaving it next to my street the day before trash pickup day. Folks drive around in pickups taking anything of value. You might be embarrassed to leave the toilet out there though.
    – James
    Sep 15 '17 at 15:20
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    Generally, this kind of business is subject to minimal regulation, but environmental laws to limit the scope of businesses that may legally dispose of certain kinds of waste such as toxic materials (e.g. drugs, batteries, things containing lead or mercury such as many electronic parts, petroleum products, rubber tires), and how certain materials must be handled (e.g. old refrigerators have to have doors removed).
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 10 '18 at 2:17
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Very briefly in terms of contract law, by hiring this person to haul away your trash, you're entering into a contract with him/her for the disposal of the trash. The fact that he says he has a legal place to dispose of the trash is part of your contract. That fact - either verbal (or in writing) in that contract - should really absolve you of any responsibility of what happens to the trash. You don't need to actually know all the details of his legal dumping place, but you can hold him/her to the agreement if it happens that they do illegally dispose of the property they have been hired to remove.

In reality, this person is advertising this service as a business (on Facebook) and has been operating for some time, so they are probably legally disposing of refuse in a landfill while making some money from whatever might be valuable. The trash hauler probably depends on some of your trash being valuable, in terms of recycling or repairing or selling collectables ("old toys"), and not all of that will be disposed of in a landfill.

I suppose it's possible a municipality could accuse you of illegally disposing of the trash if it was somehow tracked back to you, i.e. personally identifiable items or papers in the trash that was found illegally dumped. But you have the contract with the trash hauler to show you acted in good faith. Ask in the Facebook group if indeed this person disposes of trash in a legal manner, or ask others who have hired him/her. Clearly outline your stipulations for legal disposal with them. You can even ask to see their business license from the city/county.

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    "That fact - either verbal (or in writing) in that contract - should really absolve you of any responsibility of what happens to the trash" That is the central point - yes, one might think it should, but what matters is what the law says. Some place do in fact have regulations about who you are allowed to give your trash to, and good faith alone may not help.
    – sleske
    Jan 10 '18 at 8:43
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    For example, in Germany there is even a whole regulation ("Nachweisverordnung"="attestation regulation") which details what documents you must keep to prove that you disposed of your trash correctly. It only applies to businesses, however, and not for very small amounts of trash.
    – sleske
    Jan 10 '18 at 8:47
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Is it legal for me to go ahead and pay him to dispose of it?

Yes. Many legitimate business operate in the waste haulage and disposal industry.

Am I open to legal repercussions for paying them to load up all my stuff if they disposed of it for me without going through the local dump?

Possibly - it would depend on local law.

For example, in s143 of the * Protection of the Environment Operations Act* 1997 makes it an offence for the transporter and owner (if not the transporter - you can’t get done twice) if the waste does not end up at “a place that cannot lawfully be used as a waste facility for that waste”. That might mean a park for any waste or even a dump if that dump is not licensed for the particular waste (e.g, asbestos, liquid chemicals etc.)

The onus is on the defendant to prove “that the place to which the waste was transported can lawfully be used as a waste facility for that waste”; not on the prosecution to prove that it can’t be.

There is a defence for the owner if the cause was beyond their control and they “took reasonable precautions and exercised due diligence to prevent the commission of the offence.” For a householder, hiring someone who is in the business of waste transport probably meets due diligence. For a commercial owner, the usual practice is to require the transporter to give you a copy of the receipt from an approved waste facility.

Would this count as me "selling" those old items and having no further responsibility for the items?

No. As states, you contracted with them to haul it away and dispose of it. You could have contracted to sell it, but you didn’t.

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