Illegal Dumping

Dumping in unauthorized locations is a crime, and is considered a large concern by local governments and citizens alike. Illegal dump sites are not only unsightly, they are a public health hazard and also have great economic impact. Studies have shown that illegal dumpers are much more likely to dump on property where a dumpsite already exists, causing cities to spend millions of dollars cleaning up illegal dumpsites annually to prevent more illegal dumping. Also, illegal dumpers are potentially hurting honest businesses by dumping illegally, since they are not paying proper waste disposal fees.

Illegal dump sites can lead to a number of health and safety concerns for both local citizens and the environment because they can contain broken glass, hazardous waste, exposed metals, and other dangerous materials that can harm children playing, adults working nearby, or runoff into a nearby stream polluting available water supply. Dump sites also attract rodents, snakes, mosquitoes, and other pests, making sites even more dangerous to citizens.

It is up to you to help stop illegal dumping and fight environmental crime! We encourage you to work together with your local elected officials and law enforcement agencies towards a cleaner, healthier, and safer community. Located below are some great resources and information about reporting and preventing illegal dumping.

What can you do to help?

Law enforcement officials need your help in fighting environmental crime. Citizens may help prevent illegal dumping by doing the following.

  • Always dispose of your own litter and trash appropriately and encourage others to do the same.
  • Do not transport unsecured debris in the back of a vehicle, always use a tarp or other cover.
  • Spread the word to friends, neighbors, and other citizens that illegal dumping is a crime.
  • Organize volunteer cleanups of illegal dump sites. People are less likely to dump in clean areas.
  • Write or call your local or county elected officials and let them know that illegal dumping is a concern in your community.

What are the penalties of illegally dumping?

The Texas Health and Safety Code §365.012 is the state statute addressing litter and illegal dumping crimes in Texas, however penalties fall under the Texas Litter Abatement Act, and include the following.

Penalty Amount Illegally Dumped
Class C Misdemeanor 5 pounds or less
5 gallons or less
Class B Misdemeanor 5-500 pounds
100 cubic feet or less
Class A Misdemeanor 500-1,000 pounds
100 - 200 cubic feet
Class A Misdemeanor (Commercial Dumping) 5-200 pounds
200 cubic feet or less
State Jail Felony 1,000 pounds or more
200 cubic feet or more
State Jail Felony (Commercial Dumping) 200 pounds or more
200 cubic feet or more
Contained in a closed barrel or drum

Upgrading Charges and Felonies: If a violator has been previously convicted of any litter violations, the punishment can be ungraded to the next highest category for any subsequent violation. (For example, if a person has a prior conviction of a Class A misdemeanor, the next time they are convicted, the punishment will be bumped up to a state jail felony).

Common Illegal Dumping Violations:

  • Throwing litter out of a car or boat
  • Disposing of old cars on private or public property
  • Hauling trash for profit and dumping it on land that is not a legal landfill
  • Letting someone else dump waste on your property, whether they pay you or not
  • Pouring used motor oil or restaurant grease into storm drains or down manhole covers
  • Dumping mattresses, couches, or other furniture on the side of the road