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Illegal dumping is the act of disposing solid waste at a location that is not a permitted solid waste disposal facility and is usually done for economic gain. Illegal dumping poses significant social, environmental, and economic impacts statewide. California local government spends tens of millions of dollars annually to remove illegally dumped materials, and private property owners incur significant costs to clean up illegal dumping. Illegal dump sites that are not abated often grow in size and can then become illegal disposal sites.

Local government tends to view illegal dumping as a litter/nuisance abatement issue, rather than a solid waste issue. Local responses vary greatly statewide, in terms of approach and level of activity. Local code enforcement plays a lead role in some communities, while public works departments have primary responsibility in others.

Local and State policing agencies will cite people caught illegally dumping, but those agencies are not usually responsible for cleanup programs. No single State or local agency is given responsibility for a comprehensive program to combat littering and illegal dumping, identified in the Penal Code as being punishable as infractions or misdemeanors. CalRecycle is responsible for investigation, cleanup, and enforcement of illegal solid waste disposal sites and shares this responsibility with local enforcement agencies.

In 2006 the California Integrated Waste Management Board (now CalRecycle) established a high-level State and local illegal dumping enforcement task force to assess the extent of the problem and develop recommendations to enhance the effectiveness of local and regional responses to the problem. The task force recommendations were presented in March 2007 and staff analysis and recommendations on illegal dumping were presented in December 2007. One of the recommendations was to develop a web-based illegal dumping resources toolbox for local government.

This illegal dumping resources toolbox has been developed by CalRecycle with the assistance of the illegal dumping enforcement task force. Based on the experiences of many local communities, combating illegal dumping includes four essential elements: Prevention, Abatement, Cleanup and Enforcement (PACE). The Toolbox is designed as a resource for local government to establish a new program or expand an existing program to be more comprehensive and effective. The New Mexico How to Establish and Operate an Illegal Dumping Prevention and Cleanup Program is an excellent resource.

In June 2013, the technical advisory committee agreed to develop a guidance document to address solid waste management in homeless encampments. CalRecycle staff completed the draft document in November 2013, and the document was approved by the technical advisory committee in March 2014. It was added as a new section to the toolbox in September 2014 .

 In December 2010, the task force was changed to a technical advisory committee.