Illegal Dumping: What Can We Do About It?

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In the summer, many people take advantage of the nice weather to deep clean their house. When they deep clean, old furniture and beds are often the first large items to go. In the same manner, people often pack up and move in the summer, whether to a new rental or home. These major events cause an uptick in illegal dumping across Metro Vancouver.

Illegal Dumping in Canada

Illegal dumping has worsened over the years (Brend, 2019), causing the true cost to rise into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. People think they can get away with dumping old furniture and mattresses in alleyways or side streets. After all, someone else does it – so why not them? In fact, every time someone dumps an item illegally, it costs cities and their residents money to clean up the streets.

Illegal Dumping in Vancouver

People participate in illegal dumping for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, they don’t even know it’s harmful to the city and the environment! Other times, people just simply don’t care. If they’re moving the next day, who is there to say they’d get caught?

Another reason people illegally dump their old items is because of bed bugs. Treating bed-bug infested mattresses and furniture can be costly, so the easiest way unfortunately for most people is to discard it.

Finally, illegal dumping can be attractive to city folk, especially since transporting mattresses and furniture to recyclers can be a hassle if they don’t have accessible transportation. Time, money, and fuel, can all be reasons why people choose to dump their items in backstreets instead.

Why Illegal Dumping Is Such a Big Deal

People living near illegally dumped items often complain of the unsightly mess. It’s a massive eyesore, plus, these dumped items cause a host of environmental issues on nearby habitats. Also, illegal dumping increases city budgets, diverting resources from pressing matters to keep the streets clean. These items, when left for a long time, attract unwanted pests such as bugs and animals. Finally the sight of these dumped mattresses will often encourage other people to follow suit, leading to an even bigger mess.


Reporting Illegal Dumping: How To Do It In Metro Vancouver

Vancouverites, simply use the city’s Van Connect phone app to report the issue. Or, visit their website to accomplish the same thing. Just provide a description of what was illegally dumped – a photo helps too! Then the city crew will be notified, and they’ll create a ticket and see to it that the mess gets removed.

Surrey residents can report illegal dumping activity here. Although illegal dumping is uncommon in the city, keep your eyes open for dumped appliances, mattresses, and furniture. Smaller appliances, such as kitchen tools, can also get dumped illegally. If you see any, please make a report.

Finally, Langley residents can report illegal dumping activities online or phone it in. All information you need is on their website.


Preventing Illegal Dumping In Metro Vancouver

The best way to prevent illegal dumping is to start conversations with family and friends about why it’s such a concern. When appropriate, mention the available large-item pickup services through cities, or suggest alternatives. You can also direct people to resources such as Waste Wizard and Metro Vancouver Recycles.

How to avoid last-minute large-item dumping when moving

  1. Plan for junk removal service during a move
  2. Budget for the cost of removing large items (furniture, mattresses)
  3. Call a company ahead of time to book a service
  4. Ask your family and friends to help transport items to a recycler

Alternatively, post items for sale on online marketplaces, donate the items, or give it to a coworker or friend who are looking for similar items.


Common Excuses for Illegal Dumping

Here are some common excuses justifying illegal dumping, and why they are a myth.

I don’t have access to a car.

As more residents ditch cars for bikes, commuting, or ride-sharing, having access to a vehicle that can haul a mattress or furniture can be a luxury. Even worse, most cars can’t fit these items.

Solution: Rent a pick-up truck, or borrow one from your family and friends

I can’t afford the tipping fees at the landfill.

Disposing of a mattress in landfills can be expensive these days. For example, Metro Vancouver landfills charge a levy on top of the dump fees for mattresses. This is done to encourage people to take old mattresses to a recycler, but the fees can be a barrier for some people.

Solution: Take the mattress to a recycler near you for a smaller fee, or budget for disposal.

Junk removal companies charge too much.

Shopping around the companies can lead to great deals to help you haul away your old mattress or furniture. Another option is to lift your items yourself into a car, and take it to a recycler. Alternatively, see if your neighbours have items to get rid of, so that you can all pitch in to rent a junk removal bin or service.

Solution: Haul the items yourself to the dump or recycler, or shop around for deals.

I’m moving last-minute, so I don’t have time.

Surprises can come any time, especially when you’re packing for a move. It’s easy to think we don’t have the time to dispose of your large items appropriately. However, when you take a break between packing and moving, consider calling a couple of mattress removal companies nearby. They’ll help schedule a pickup, and for some you don’t even need to be on site on the day of pickup.

Solution: Make the time to research a pickup service!

Someone else will be able to use the item I dump on the street.

This is actually a myth! When the item you leave on the side of the road disappears, such as an old bed, chances are they aren’t picked up by someone for reuse. City crew are called onto the site to remove the item instead.


Illegal dumping is a headache in most Canadian cities. Each summer, when people start to renovate, deep clean, or tidy up their house, furniture and mattresses often end up on the streets. Not only is illegally dumped garbage an eyesore, it is also bad for the environment. While there may be reasons people dump items illegally, we can all do our part to prevent this from happening. Illegal dumping costs cities hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, and it’s the taxpayers who pay in the end. Therefore, we hope this blog post helps shed light on the issue of illegal dumping and what you can do about it. Doing our part to preserve natural spaces in our amazing cities is the right thing to do.

Canadian Mattress Recycling Inc. is Metro Vancouver’s leading mattress recycler based in Delta, BC.


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