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California Cracks Down On Recycling Fraud

May 7th, 2010 · 5 Comments

Thirty-one persons were arrested last month in California recycling fraud that may have cost taxpayers $3.5 million in redemptions.

California Attorney General Jerry Brown

Thirty-one persons in California were arrested in April of this year for committing recycling fraud against California taxpayers. The state’s attorney general estimates that the fraudsters illegally collected $3.5 million in redemption money by hauling in truckloads of cans and bottles from the neighboring states of Arizona and Nevada. They are now detained and charged with conspiracy, grand theft, and unlawful recycling.

“These bands of thieves have been caught red-handed running tons of cans and bottles from across the state’s border and fraudulently collecting money through the California Redemption Value program,” says Attorney General Jerry Brown.

Last year, we wrote about the phenomenal increase in California’s recycling rate for soft drink bottles and cans. Californians recycled an average of 85% of beverage containers in 2009. Beverage bottle recycling has been particularly successful in the state after the California Redemption Value (CRV) was increased to up to 10 cents per bottle in 2007.

Californians can bring in their beverage bottles and aluminum cans to nearby recycling centers and collect the recycling value of these containers. Apparently, the high redemption value of beverage containers in California was also seen by unscrupulous persons as a quick money-making opportunity.

At that time, when the 2009 report was released, the California Department of Conservation was already looking into the possibility of fraud. It was reported that HDPE (see Recycling Symbols) recycling in the state rose by 116% in the second half of 2010 and that the authorities were investigating if fraud was committed. The recent arrests were the result of cooperation between the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) and the state’s Attorney General’s office.

“Recycling fraud is a crime against California consumers and we take it very seriously,” said a statement from Margo Reid Brown, director of the state’s CalRecycle program.

The fraudsters, belonging to three separate fraud rings, were arrested in multiple raids last month. They are suspected of importing in millions of pounds of cans and bottles and collecting as much as $1.57 per pound in redemption value from various recycling centers in California. The authorities mentioned an instance when one of the syndicates imported 1.6 million lbs. of redeemable containers from Nevada and stored these in a facility in Montclair.

Attorney General Brown issued this stern warning to criminal elements who may be thinking of targeting the state’s recycling program: “defrauding the state’s recycling program is not a way to make easy money. We are looking for you and you will be caught.”

Associated Press

Tags: Recycling

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Glass Bottles // May 17, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I remember hearing quite a bit about this in the 90s along the Michigan- Wisconsin Boarder. Price of aluminum vs. 10 cents a can in Michigan. Glad to hear people are recycling, sad to hear about the fraud.

  • 2 Michael Marks // Jun 17, 2010 at 10:16 am

    I’m glad I did not try to do this myself. I never knew this would be illegal. Definitely need to pass the word so unsuspecting people do not try this.

  • 3 Vinyl Banners // Jul 1, 2010 at 7:43 am

    Every industry is going to have someone who tries to beat the system, I’m just glad that California is able to crack down on a few of these people.

  • 4 WisconsinSpd // Jul 2, 2010 at 5:37 am

    We live in NE Wisconsin, and we are required to recycle our trash. Weeks are alternated between glass, plastic, metal and paper. It feels good to help, but I wish they would provide one plastic bin with three seperate compartments. That would really help. Right now they just give us a square plastic bin to put stuff in. You take it out by the trash cans on pick-up day. The bin is never big enough to hold it all, either. If they find an excessive amount of recyclable material in your trash, you get fined on your next bill- which I get..but again I wish they would provide a bin that is big enough. As far as I know there hasn’t been fraud- at least not up where we are.

  • 5 WisconsinSpd // Jul 2, 2010 at 5:48 am

    Oops! I forgot to say that if we throw anything away that is electronic, there is a big-time fine for that. I don’t know about cell phones, but computer stuff and such for sure. I wonder if stores like Wal-Mart could set up a bin with a small opening at the top, so people could just slip their cell phone into it when they need to get rid of it. Hey- PaceButler could supply the bins and ask Wal-Mart to put them in their stores (or any other store). I wonder if there is a danger with all those phones stacked up though- due to battery explosion or leakage problems. I think I’m over thinking! 🙂