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Several years ago, I came upon some financial papers for a pro athlete blowing around in the street.The nearby address on one of them suggested that they were from a management company/agent/whatever of some kind, and that someone had just dropped them, intact, into a recycling bin and put it out for collection, and the wind had whisked them out of the uncovered bin. Now imagine if it had been an associate of the athlete coming over who happened upon these papers. A shredder is cheap insurance against what might happen due to a slip with garbage collection, a raccoon searching for food and tearing open bags, your readable trash being used as ticker-tape, etc.The residents' argument in their lawsuit (yes, of course there was a lawsuit): If there's any money to be gotten by recycling, whether by the residents or by the city, then there's value in them thar trash.
In many jurisdictions, dumpster diving is perfectly legal and not considered a form of theft because trash placed for collection is deemed "abandoned property" under the law.
That means that anyone, including police, nosy neighbors, or your mom can take anything they want from your trash and you have no way of getting it back.
In several cities where I have lived, I've been aware of specific and explicit laws to the contrary.
(This is in California.) In these cases, the rule is: Any trash, once placed at curbside for trash pickup, immediately becomes the property of the city.
Anyone with a lick of sense can immediately see where that was going.