On May 25th, 2022

Six Arrested in $10M Recycling Fraud Scheme A California Department of Justice investigation

LOS ANGELES – On May 25, 2022, the California Attorney General’s Office announced the arrest and filing of felony charges against six people for allegedly operating a recycling fraud scheme in the Los Angeles area and defrauding California’s beverage container recycling program by bringing more than nine tons of out-of-state materials from Arizona for redemption. The defendants have been charged with recycling fraud and grand theft.

From September 21, 2021 through March 30, 2022 a California Department of Justice investigation revealed a scheme by the individuals to import aluminum cans and plastic bottles from Arizona to the state of California to unlawfully redeem the California recycling refund value of those items.

The defendants allegedly brought truckloads of ineligible materials from Arizona to recycling centers in Southern California where the scheme is estimated to have defrauded the CRV fund of more than $10 million.

“California Department of Justice special agents work to protect the California Redemption Value (CRV) program by investigating illegal activity such as bringing cans and bottles from other states to California for cash, when in fact no money was contributed to California’s CRV fund when those cans and bottles were purchased in another state,” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona

The CRV program is California’s beverage container recycling program administered by CalRecycle and incentivizes recycling at privately-owned centers with a 5- or 10-cent return on eligible beverage containers. California consumers subsidize the CRV program every time they purchase CRV-eligible bottles and cans in the state. Only material from California is eligible for redemption under this program.

Arizona does not have a recycling program that provides redemption value for bottles and cans. The illegal redemption of out-of-state beverage containers drains California’s CRV fund and takes funds that are subsidized by the beverage container purchases of California consumers.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.


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