“This has been a lengthy and ongoing investigation to bring to justice those who have illegally taken from a fund that belongs to California and that each of us pay into when we purchase beverages in certain containers. We appreciate the work of California Department of Justice agents who protect this fund which can lead to arrests, prosecution and restitution.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona
LOS ANGELES –On March 8, 2023, two additional arrests were made in an ongoing investigation of a recycling fraud scheme defrauding California’s beverage container recycling program. The scheme involved bringing more than nine tons of out-of-state materials to the Los Angeles area from Arizona for redemption. The two defendants, arrested in Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona, are Arizona business owners who will be extradited to California for prosecution. The defendants have been charged with recycling fraud and grand theft.
In addition to arresting the suspects, the California Department of Justice served an order to freeze more than $800,000 from the bank accounts of the suspects.
Beginning in 2021, 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.
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.
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.
“The California Redemption program is an important tool in our efforts to encourage recycling, reduce waste, and address climate change. We will continue to work with our law enforcement and state partners to protect California’s programs and resources. I thank CalRecycle, and the Arizona Department of Safety for their work in this investigation and in apprehending
The California Redemption Value (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.
A copy of the complaint can be found here.