- The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) has shut down two operations that were transporting recyclables to California from New Mexico and Arizona and redeeming them for money. Beverage containers can be redeemed for between 5-10 cents depending on their size, but this only applies to containers purchased within the state.
- Agents from the California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team searched 18 storage units at two locations. They found a combined total of 35,479 pounds of aluminum containers worth an estimated $70,958 in redemption money and 9,125 pounds of plastic containers worth $11,406.
- Two men were sentenced to jail time — one for four months, the other a year — and will pay the state a combined $1.25 million in restitution.
California's waste industry has been under serious scrutiny lately. Two recycling companies were recently ordered to pay big money for wage violations and the state has been aggressively targeting recycling fraud for years. This month, the state accused multiple companies — including a Waste Management subsidiary — of owing the container deposit program millions of dollars.
The state has also implemented new regulations to help manage the system. In 2012, a bill was signed to better identify drivers who bring in cans and bottles from other states and in 2013, the state reduced the amount of materials which can be redeemed per day.
“CalRecycle and its enforcement partners won’t stop until we put these smugglers out of business for good," said Director Scott Smithline in a statement after the most recent arrests.
These measures still haven't been enough to make up for lost redemption money and low commodity prices for cans and bottles. Earlier this year rePlanet, the largest recycler in the state, closed 191 locations and terminated nearly 300 employees.