California recycling centers accepting plastic are in the crosshairs of thieves stealing pallets and crates from local businesses, the Los Angeles Times reports. Recycling fraud is creating costly problems for a number of industries.
What happens to the stolen plastic?
Thieves take it to plastic recycling centers for cash. Payouts may be as high as 15 cents for a pound of the material.
How are officials responding?
The City of Industry is funding the Industrial Plastics Task Force, which is staffed by five members of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Thus far, the task force has been instrumental in the filing of 47 criminal cases and the recovery of $6 million in plastic items stolen by thieves.
How serious is this type of theft to the average business?
The Associated Press highlights ongoing plastic thefts at Rockview Farms, which is targeted by thieves stealing about 1,200 plastic milk crates on a daily basis. Over the course of a year, these losses add up to $1.4 million.
Do California recycling centers know that they are receiving stolen goods?
So-called black market recyclers set up plastic grinders in warehouses for the express purpose of receiving stolen materials. Plastics News reports that the resin sells for $1 per pound. Yet even reputable recycling centers may receive stolen plastic without their knowledge.
What other materials are thieves recycling in California for profit?
The Santa Clarita Valley Signal explains that plastic recycling is only one facet of recycling-related thefts. Other thieves are dismantling power lines for copper. In just the last six weeks, wires stolen in the Santa Clarita Valley set back the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power $450,000.
Are there other types of fraud perpetrated against the California recycling program?
It is interesting to note that recycling out-of-state containers at California recycling centers is illegal. Border agents have noticed an uptick in commercial vehicles coming into the Golden State with the express purpose of recycling items, the California Department of Food and Agriculture tells the Imperial Valley News. Loss estimates for the State of California are as high as $40 million each year. Even within California's recycling program, certificated operators may attempt to steal from the state. A case in point is the Burbank Recycling Center, which just recently received a new certification under new management. The Burbank Leader advises that the previous operator "allegedly bilked the state out of $33 million in fraudulent recycling claims at a facility in Long Beach."
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.
- Conservation & Recycling
- plastic recycling
- California politics