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Gordon Bill on Recycling Fraud Signed by Governor

In 2010, the State Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery made 31 arrests for the illegal collection of $3.5 million in redemption funds.

Since 1986, California has led the country in recycling, largely as a result of the California Redemption Value (CRV) fund that refunds a nickel for nearly all beverage containers that are recycled with in California.  While this program has successfully grown recycling programs throughout the state, it is currently at risk of significant depletion from out-of-state rogue operators who are illegally hauling recyclables into California by the tractor trailer load to illegally collect the 5 cent per bottle redemption fee.

In 2010, the State Department of Resources, Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle), in conjunction with the Attorney General’s Office, made 31 arrests for the illegal collection of $3.5 million in redemption funds over several years by hauling in truckloads of cans and bottles from the neighboring states of Arizona and Nevada.  According to CalRecycle, such organized crime is committing fraud and depleting the near $1 billion CRV annual fund by $50 to $100 million each year.

Aiming to protect California’s recycling funds and programs, Assemblyman Rich Gordon (Menlo Park) authored AB 1933 to improve upon CalReycle’s enforcement tools in order to better help identify organized criminals who are illegally bringing recyclables into California.  AB 1933 was signed into law by Governor Brown Tuesday.

“California’s successful Bottle Bill Program is creating green jobs while protecting the environment by encouraging recycling,” said Assemblyman Gordon. “It is important that we protect these programs from individuals who are attempting to exploit them.”

The bill specifically would require those importing 25 pounds of aluminum or plastic or 250 pounds of glass beverage containers to report the volume to CalRecycle, along with the source and destination of the material.

Additionally, AB 1933 would require a vehicle entering the state that contains more than 25 pounds of empty beverage container material to pass through the nearest plant quarantine inspection station and obtain proof of inspection from the department.

Mark Murray, Executive Director of Californians Against Waste, the bill’s sponsor, hailed AB 1933, “California has proven that recycling programs are good for the environment and the economy through job creation.  AB 1933 will ensure these successful programs can continue to thrive and that California will continue to be a leader in recycling and green job creation.”

Gordon’s introduction of AB 1933 follows his success of last year with AB 1149, legislation that extended and expanded the Plastic Market Development (PMD)Program.  Established in 2006 under the umbrella of the Bottle Bill Program, the PMD program creates incentives for California-based companies to remanufacture plastics in-state.  The program has created hundreds of green manufacturing jobs this year alone.

Containing an urgency clause to reflect the immediate need for the bill’s implementation, AB 1933 will take effect now after receiving the Governor’s signature.  Additionally, the bill received overwhelming bi-partisan support in both the Assembly and the Senate. 

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