Californian Recycling Fraud Case

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Guest essay by Eric Worrall

A Californian truck driver has been charged with smuggling tons of used beverage containers from out of state into California, to defraud the California Redemption Value (CRV), which pays out 5 – 10c per beverage container at Californian recycling centres.

According to Reuters;

A Los Angeles-area truck driver has been charged with smuggling 7,000 pounds of used beverage containers into California from out of state, marking the third such arrest this year in a crackdown by California’s recycling enforcement agents.

Cesar Vargas, 42, is accused of trying to defraud the California Redemption Value (CRV) program, which allows empty soft-drink bottles and cans to be redeemed at state-certified recycling centers for the 5- or 10-cent deposits consumers pay on those containers when they are purchased.

California’s so-called bottle bill program, which collects and redeems roughly $1.2 billion in deposits a year, was launched in 1987 to encourage recycling of beverage containers made of glass, plastic and aluminum.

California is one of 10 U.S. states with similar programs. Because most states, including neighboring Arizona and Nevada, lack their own container-deposit laws, California restricts its CRV payments to returned in-state containers only.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/08/us-usa-recycle-california-idUSKCN0PI00D20150708

This Californian fraud case might be peanuts compared to say the massive carbon credit frauds which rocked Europe in 2009, or the Danish carbon trading fraud scandal of 2010, where criminals using false identities and fraudulent carbon credits robbed Denmark of 2% of its GDP, or the multi billion dollar carbon exchange hacking scandal of 2011. You might recall that the gigantic European carbon frauds only faded away to an extent, after the European carbon market collapsed – though as a recent WUWT post shows, criminals are still active in what is left of the world’s carbon markets.

However, this case serves as a reminder, that green subsidies attract criminals like maggots to rotten meat. And who knows, beverage container fraud seems such a simple, obvious crime – the handful of arrests (3 this year) may just be the tip of the iceberg.

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206 thoughts on “Californian Recycling Fraud Case

  1. I am not sure how having people pay a deposit on a renewable item and then getting it back when they return them is a subsidy? In Canada we have been doing this for awhile now and seems to be an effective system for ensuring recyclable items do in fact get recycled and don’t end up in landfills.
    The only problem I see with the U.S. implementation is because this was not implemented in every state some people have found a way to exploit the situation.

      • I am not familiar with the details around the European carbon market so I can’t really comment. However just because that system was a failure does not mean that all are. As I said it’s been working well in Canada for years and I have never heard of any issues about it.

    • The forced payment of a “deposit” is not a subsidy …… but more akin to a “Cash Cow” that more than pays for the State employees needed to run the project.
      There is a horrendous number of “deposit” containers that are never returned to a “recycling center” ….. and thus their “deposit money” becomes cash-in-the-bank for the politicians to spend elsewhere.
      Its not about “recyclables”, ……. its about easily extorted taxpayer money.

      • When I was in college, a pretty good chunk of my spending money came from collecting old cans and turning them in at the recycling center. That was just for the price of aluminum, GA didn’t have this deposit nonsense back then. I used to carry an old plastic shopping bag in my back pack just for them.

      • I can still crush cans with my bare hands, it’s technique not strength that matters. I also noticed that over time cans got lighter, when I started college I was getting about 12 cans to the pound, by the time I graduated in was over 16 cans to the pound.

      • More like 32 cans per pound now. Aluminum cans have become 32% lighter in the past 25 years alone.
        They now weigh just a hair over 14 grams…or half and ounce, making a pound of them close to 32 cans.

      • And those 32 cans are worth less than a dollar in scrap value.
        The way it use to work was that retailers and wholesalers took a deposit, and also paid out to people who brought in returns. But imagine paying a store clerk to stand there all day long counting peoples returned cans and bottles, and dispensing change to each person. And then having huge piles of such containers lying around, which may be infested with roaches or other vermin.
        Bad idea.
        That is why sane places dropped such schemes. The streams are too vast these days.

      • When I was still collecting, they had a big machine that ran the cans past a magnet, then crushed them. After all your cans went through the crusher, they were weighed and you got your cash.

      • Somewhere along the way, we lost sight of the fact that the prices established by free markets communicate important information. When politicians instead substitute their own ideas about value, gross inefficiencies are the usual result.
        What is the actual economic value of an empty glass bottle in the free market. It is easy enough to establish this, at least when a bin of such bottles is sent to the recycling station in states where there is no deposit. The value will be a few bucks per ton.
        If the price of the bottle is instead artificially raised to 10c, lots of economic inefficiencies are guaranteed to enter the system. Money that would otherwise buy goods and services that consumers actually want instead goes to pay for makework. If one adds up all environmental costs of transporting, sorting, storing, and cleaning, it is quite likely that the deposit recycling system constitutes an environmental net loss.
        It the world made any sense, people would be a lot more cautious and have a lot less hubris than they do, about over-ruling the signals sent by markets. Here is a pretty good movie about the fact that “Nobody knows how to make a pencil”.

      • @Menicholas
        The current market price for scrap aluminum cans is just under $0.60US. In the last 3 years it has been as high as just over $0.90US per pound. That’s $60 – $90 per hundredweight. I used to take newspapers to the local recycling business where the paid you real money for newsprint. I recall that I might have gotten $3 – $5 per hundredweight. I might have committed minor larceny to have aluminum to sell!

    • What’s wrong with recyclables ending up in the landfill? It’s not like they get disintegrated when they go to the dump? If aluminum et. al. ever get valuable enough govt can sell mining rights to the dump and allow miners to go in and get the stuff.

      • Substantial reclamation in the so-called Third World, not just of aluminium [aluminium for folk west of the Atlantic, and south of Canada], but cardboards, plastics, tyres and more.
        Go to Google Images, and search landfill scavenging Manila – for example.
        Recycling is (generally) good – no matter your views on plant food, and other gases with carbon.
        Auto

      • Back in the 1950s, dad and I regularly scavenged the city dump whenever we emptied our home garbage cans there. We built a little go-cart from spare parts, powered by an old gasoline, 1-horse power motor taken from an old Maytag washer we found at the dump. I was very disappointed when the city eventually put up a sign preventing people from “looting” the city dump!

      • Recycling is only good when it makes economic sense, when it doesn’t, it’s better to store it in a landfill until such time as it’s economic value increases. They it can be recovered and sold at a profit.

      • In CA, they would weigh cars going in and going out, then bill them on how much lighter the car got.
        They would get very mad at my uncle as his car was usually heavier leaving, then arriving.

    • This has a history. For as long as I can remember, the beer companies would pay to get their glass bottles back. In other words, the deposit/refund system was started and run by industry. I think in most of Canada, the system is mostly free enterprise.

    • The state actually makes a massive.profit. only about 1/2 – 2/3 of the cans are recycled, the state keeps the excess cash.

      • The state of California also adds “sales tax” on the CRV on top of the regular item sales tax. Double win for the state. Double screw for the buyer especially if he does not recycle and get the CRV back.

    • Vanguard:
      Some questions regarding the Canadian recycling to which you refer.
      How much of the materials returned are actually reprocessed into new products?
      And how much of the returned material actually goes into landfill?

      • All municipal recycling programs are money losers, Calgary was the last large municipality to give up on making money, now the idea is to lose as little as possible. A lot of consumer recycled material is sent to landfills by the agencies invoved, oddly enough a lot of disposables have very little value, even if we are told otherwise.

      • Hey William recycling is a pretty broad topic and I am just referring to beverage containers which you pay a deposit for and then get it back when you return them. Here is a link to the Beverage Container Management Board for Alberta which should answer your questions. http://www.bcmb.ab.ca/home/

    • Vanguard — Recycling COSTS the taxpayer money. It is a net loss. The recycled goods do not come close to recouping the cost of gathering them.
      It is a government enterprise. What possibly made you think the government was breaking even much less making a profit? It is just another government boondoggle hyped by the Greens. And in a lot of places the government fines you for not recycling. That is a double whammy.
      Eugene WR Gallun

      • I never said the government breaks even or makes a profit so please don’t put words in my mouth. There is a cost to the government in dealing with our garbage no matter how it’s done. If they have to sort through tons of garbage to get the items that can be recycled it adds to the cost.
        If I pay a deposit and then return them to a depot to get my deposit back it reduces the cost for recycling those items, since I am the one who has to sort, collect and bring back the items to a central collection point. Yes it takes some of my time and energy to do so but I would rather do that then pay a tax and never have the opportunity to get my money back.

    • The same game is available between Ontario and Quebec, in Quebec empties are 5 cents, in Ontario 10 cents. University students in Ottawa play it like a bank machine. Nobody that lives in Ottawa buys much beer there, Gatineau’s prices are about half.

    • ensuring recyclable items do in fact get recycled and don’t end up in landfills
      ===============================
      if the item is worth recycling, then it should not need a “deposit” to make it happen. the reason a “deposit” is required is that the item is not worth the cost of recycling.
      in theory just about everything we buy could be recycled. the problem is that recycling most things is not cost effective. it artificially forces the economy to use more expensive feed-stocks, making goods and services artificially more expensive.
      those items that are worth recycling don’t need a deposit, because they are worth money, not from the deposit, but as a feed-stock and businesses will pay to separate these items.
      in effect the deposit is a tax to force people to do something they would not do otherwise, because it is not in their economic best interests.

      • Ferdberple says ” in effect the deposit is a tax to force people to do something they would not do otherwise, because it is not in their economic best interests.”
        A tax takes money out of my pocket which I never get back.
        A deposit is to help ensure the item is returned. For doing so I get my money back so no it’s not a tax.
        If I choose not to return the item and get my deposit back then yes that would be considered a tax.
        The other interesting thing is because I threw the item away someone else can gather the item and return it and get rewarded for doing so. This is how it helps keep bottles and cans off the streets and highways because people will go and collect them all for just the deposit. That is a much better alternative than having the government pay someone to collect them since they are worth nothing to anyone else because I can assure you that would be a much larger cost to taxpayers.

    • As I recall, recycling empties in Oregon was sold as a way to clean up the highways. The highways used to be littered with cans and bottles. These days, a lot fewer people toss them out the car window, and the ones that are, are picked up by kids and poor people, looking to cash them in.

      • I as understand it – If it were a closed system, i.e. only CA residents participated, monies collected at purchase would be greater than monies paid out (some people buy the item but do not recycle – they trash it) for the recycled container. So far, so good, right? But with qualified recyclable containers coming in from non-participating states, monies paid out could necessarily exceed monies collected from CA residents. Ergo, the problem. Who is responsible for the delta? Answer – once again the CA taxpayer gets screwed by “green” programs.

    • The problem is an artificial government created “market” is attracting criminal activity, defrauding the taxpayer of money which could be spent on schools or hospitals.
      The alleged criminal in this case is an amateur. Wait until someone bribes a recycling depot manager, to let them ship the “recycled” beverage containers out of the depot, so they can be “recycled” multiple times – that will be California’s answer to the European carbon carousel frauds.

      • Any market can attract criminal activity. Its not just limited to artificial government created “markets”.

      • For the record Eric, I am against carbon tax credit scheme of any kind as I don’t feel it resolve the problem and is too easily manipulated and exploited.

      • I think they are crushed as soon as they are collected.
        Especially aluminum cans are very bulky.
        They are making cans out of an incredibly small amount of aluminum these days. About half an ounce each.
        And, at least here in Florida every scrapyard has cameras all over the place, collects a copy of everyone’s driver license, and makes everyone sign an affidavit.
        Some one might get away with it at first, but as soon as anyone looked, there would be a mountain of evidence of guilt.

      • How is requiring a deposit for recyclables and then giving it back when people returning them increasing the opportunity for criminals to steal our money?
        I did some digging and in Canada each province has its own program. In Alberta where I live it’s been in place since 1997. I did a Google search to see if there has ever been any kind of criminal activity around this program and came up with nothing. I understand your concern but it seems to have worked well in Canada and since every province has a similar law there is no incentive to gather bottles on one province and then transport them to another when you can just take them to your local return depot.
        In addition the program seems to work well with its intended goal of providing an incentive to recycle.
        http://www.bottlebill.org/legislation/canada/history/abhis.htm
        I understand your concerns but at least when it comes to how this was implemented in Canada it has work rather well and achieved the objective it was created to achieve with no criminal activity.

      • Maybe nobody has looked for whether people are “recycling” cans from the USA through the Canadian scheme, or maybe Canada doesn’t mind.
        Nobody seriously tried to stop European carbon fraud until it hit truly epic proportions. For example, the Danish fraud case, which was made possible by slipshod identity checks, didn’t get uncovered until it started consuming 2% of Denmark’s GDP.

      • I think artificial is an appropriate term and artificial markets are by definition not real markets. I.E. they exist only by government mandate and subsidy and not free market economics. Put simply artificial markets are not financially viable and have nothing to do with free market enterprise.
        Recycling is like the fire department, military, or thousands of other government services. And like many government services suffers from the unholy alliance between government and business otherwise known as crony capitalism.

      • Carbon is not a physical asset so much more room for fraud and manipulation so lets compare apples to apples.
        I am talking about recycling cans and bottles, not carbon. Your article references abuse from someone returning cans and bottles and it’s very easy to see how that was possible when not all states have a similar system.
        For the record Alberta recycling only pays for cans and bottles purchased in Alberta. Not sure how they determine that but then I don’t really care because it’s truly is a non-issue.
        The money coming in from deposits is set aside for returns. Pretty sure if the money going out for returns was more than what was coming in the Government would be all over it since we know how much they like to keep any money they can get their hands on.
        At the end of the day the province I live in does not have a lot of cans and bottles lying around as garbage and the program works. We have much more worrisome issues like the price of oil, the fact that the Oil Sands has been painted as the poster child for excessive CO2 emission by the greens when the entire country of Canada produces 1.6% of global CO2 emissions. Our newly elected NDP government is conducting a royalty and CO2 emissions reviews which could devastate our economy.

      • I did some searching on this as well Vanguard as the 1997 date you mentioned did not sound correct to me because as a child in Alberta in the 70’s and 80’s I used to collect bottles and cans for extra spending money. The 1997 bill is for the current bottle refund program, Alberta has actually had a bottle refund program since 1972 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recycling_in_Canada. Currently every province and territory in Canada except Nunavut has a deposit/refund system but they differ based on province. For example some provinces only pay a refund on alcoholic beverage containers, some are limited to only beer, Alberta seems to be the most comprehensive having deposit/refund for virtually all beverage containers including dairy. Although I also did not find any mention of illegal activity connected to the differing provincial laws I can easily see how it can be done. Unless there is some sort of marking on the containers I’m not aware of, soda bottles and cans from Manitoba, which only has a refund system for beer containers, could be taken to Alberta and a deposit collected.

      • Thanks Trevor, I guess I should have researched a bit more as I too remember always getting money back for bottles growing up in Alberta. Trucking bottle and cans from Manitoba to Alberta for a refund would probably cost you money when you take in fuel and maintenance cost of the vehicle. My understanding is they are moving to be able to scan them to ensure they were in fact sold in Alberta.
        As joelobryan pointed out below it’s really more of a tax than a subsidy. The nice part is by taking the time to return them to a bottle depot I can get that money back and is far cheaper than paying taxes so someone can come pick up my recyclables from my home. For the most part it’s been a pretty successful program in Alberta. I have never heard anything bad about it or anyone really complain about it. It’s pretty much a non issue and we have pretty clean, streets, and highways because of it. Charities have bottle drives to help raise funds and all in all it helps reinforce that we have a responsibility to help protect the environment.
        Not all environmental programs are bad, most are but this one I am hard pressed to find fault with.

      • There used to be a deposit on pop bottles. The stores would stockpile them and the delivery truck would pick up as it dropped off the new stock. My Grandmother ran a little summer store for tourists. They didn’t take any special precautions with their stock of empty bottles. They were just kept out front ready for the pop truck to make his route. It was purely the honor system and they never had any trouble, but one little five year old was suddenly inspired and made several runs back and forth cashing in bottles he’d snagged from the storage area. He wasn’t exactly subtle and only did it about three times before they twigged to what was happening.
        He had no idea he was doing anything wrong, To him it was like money between sofa cushions.

      • Back in the 50s in Washington State I supported my bubble gum and candy addiction by refunds on the pop bottles I collected along the road side. (There were no fines and “Do Not Litter” signs back then.)

    • One of the many problems is that we CA residents rarely get our deposit back. Most people will typically just put it in their home recycling container. When I lived in San Jose, an army of bums would scavenge through my recycling to find the aluminum cans, making a big mess in the process. So the deposit is really only incentivizing bums to maintain their lifestyle at the expense of the rest of us, while most people recycle anyway because it makes them feel like good green soldiers (never mind that recycling anything but metal is a net negative for the environment and more expensive than using virgin material…netting out the massive subsidies of course).

      • I doubt net negative for most recycled materials, at least for most major metropolitan areas in the Northeast Corridor. Landfill space is expensive and usually distant, and it costs money and energy to haul trash hundreds of miles to landfills. And paper in landfills often produces methane.

      • Once upon a time I the early days of municipal recycling, some studies and/or articles made the case that such programs cost more in fuel than they saved.
        At that time, materials were collected in some cases without a real solid plan in place to get the collected materials back into the raw material streams.
        Other problems included market values for scrap plummeting when many communities instituted such programs.
        Companies in the business of making bottles and cans and other containers often could not used recycled materials for logistical or technical reasons.
        But over the past twenty years or so the scrap materials markets have matured considerably.
        Some materials such as paper and cardboard are readily recyclable, and save manufacturers a lot of money, as the process for reducing paper back to pulp is far cheaper than making fresh pulp from wood.
        Corrugated boxes are a huge market these days, and large retailers do not give away the large bales of used boxes that they produce everyday. They sell them.
        Plastics are hugely valuable as scrap, although the premium value comes from having a large amount of the same polymer, and having the material be “clean”.
        In fact what scrap yards and recycles call “clean” material commands a premium price over a wide range of items.
        Sorting technology has advanced greatly, and having a steady stream of a large amount of mixed waste ensures that such sorting machines and processes will be profitable. They have it down to a science nowadays.
        Some parts of the process of sorting are done automatically with large machines and conveyor belts, while other steps including quality control consist of human sorters standing along rapidly moving conveyors.
        Once sorted, like materials are bundled and sent to various places.
        Some of the sorted materials constitute valuable commodities, and the value of such are traded on exchanges around the world.
        Some are shipped overseas, such as electronics, where they are broken down and valuable metals extracted.
        The amount of material being landfilled these days is quite a small part of the waste stream in places that are doing it right, like here in Florida. Part of the economics of it is indeed dictated by the tipping fees at landfills.
        But even landfilled material is not what it once was…just buried and left to sit or rot or whatever. Landfills here in Florida are highly engineered constructions, and produce usable energy. hey are not called landfills anymore, but bioreactors. Waste is layered in with dirt, made wet, and the whole pile is covered. Pipes are layered into the pile to collect methane, and to eliminate leachate.
        Actual scrap yards are huge money makers, with lines of people all day long bring scrap in amounts large and small and getting paid cash, in amounts dictated by negotiation and commodities markets.
        Junk yard men are millionaires these days.

      • Jeez, Klip. You find me that process to turn paper into methane and we’ll patent it.

      • Donald, the problem is that most of those so called recycled materials end up in the land fill anyway.

    • The problem is that not all states collect deposits. I made a few bucks on, a vacation, taking empties from Illinois which didn’t charge a deposit to Michigan who gave me $0.10 per empty. I had neighbors in Illinois who saved all of their empties and took them to their summer cottage in Michigan. Paid for at least trip per year. No deposit paid but deposit money collected anyway.

      • The state knows there’ll be “leakage,” but they’ve accomplished their main objective of getting millions of people to do the green goose-step. Just don’t show up at a recycling center with a 10-ton truck full of empties. That sort of gives you away.

    • It invites cheating, such as the case in point, plus the fact is that most people don’t recycle because the cost of half a dozen cans just isn’t worth the trip to the recycling center and waiting in line, so it results in another tax.

    • Chris moffatt
      Recycling is a net loss. It costs more to collect the stuff then the government gets paid for it. That is what is wrong with it. Another government boondoggle.
      ITS THE GOVERNMENT, MAN!!!! Did you really think they were making money at it?
      Eugene WR Gallun

      • Hey, things change, Eugene, and maybe you should too!
        Please post us references for your assertions, or admit that they are just your own opinions.

  2. Who processes the receiving? Or in other words, what prevents the same bottles/cans being ‘disappeared’ and then re-appearing for multiple claims?

    • That’s funny; I somewhat remember reading a now famous rock band (May have been Rolling Stones); when starting and poor would steal the empties from the back of the bar and bring them around to the front for redemption.

  3. When on vacation in Florida, I am dismayed by the total absence of recycling in that beautiful State (Destin area). Everything from plastic milk jugs to newspapers and glass bottles ends up in the trash. While I’m a skeptic when it comes to global warming, I think we should manage our finite resources carefully and recycle to the maximum.

    • Not total absence. Volusia, Orange and Lake (probably others) all have recycle programs and are getting smarter about implementation. Now have 2 large bins. one for trash the other recycle. The trucks come by, mechanically grab and dump the bins and move on. It’s way more efficient and safer but probably cost some Waste Pro people their jobs.

      • Lee county recycles everything.
        Household recyclables are mixed for pick up. Yard waste is kept separate and is turned into mulch and compost.
        You can bring other stuff like chemicals to a central site and they will take it off your hands.
        Large items are left at the curb and the trash guys will call in a request for a special truck. Appliances, old electronics, furniture…you name it, they will collect it.
        You just have to keep it separate.
        Best thing is, it is all privatized and some divisions run at a profit.

      • Taz – that’s how it’s done in Port Charlotte as well. I don’t remember separate bins in Sarasota, but it’s been over a decade since I spent any time there.

      • Menicholas —
        Now this is a laughable line — Best thing is, it is all privatized and some divisions run at a profit.
        If it were truly privatized the divisions that were not running at a profit would have been gotten rid of long ago. All this smells of massive government subsidies.
        Eugene WR Gallun

      • Eugene, of course they cannot just “get rid” of trash removal!
        The collection process is indeed privatized…the trucks that come down my street are WastePro trucks, not Lee County government trucks. In other areas, they use the other local private waste haulers.
        So waste removal “smells of massive subsidies” to you?
        That is laughable.
        What do they do where you live?
        People who own property pay taxes, and part of the tax levy is for solid waste removal.
        lee county has a very well run program.
        Of course the companies that are contracted to haul waste and do other parts of the process are paid.
        If you got the idea I was saying the government is not involved, then I am sorry you got that impression.
        If you thought I was saying it does not cost anybody anything to make sure that trash gets collected, then again, sorry.
        I will stand up for the logic of using private waste haulers instead of city workers, or other services like mowing, done by private individuals and companies who are paid to do the service, instead of government workers who do not own the machines and could care less if they break them, or run into massive overtime which no one can control.
        Massive subsidies?
        It is called tax dollars, and it is about being efficient.
        I do not know where you live, but here in Florida, there are no city or state wage taxes. Governments are working for the people still, not the other way around, and people insist that costs, and hence property taxes, be kept down.
        https://www.leegov.com/solidwaste/about

      • re: schitzree July 11, 2015 at 11:13 am
        “Taz – that’s how it’s done in Port Charlotte as well. I don’t remember separate bins in Sarasota, but it’s been over a decade since I spent any time there.”
        In Sarasota County we have two recycling bins. One for plastic and glass (blue) the other for paper and cardboard (red). I pay around $160 per year for weekly trash pick up which includes the collection of my recycling bins. That fee is included in the non-ad valorem portion of my property taxes and is a per parcel assessment. I would think that that fee, which is part of the negotiated contract between Waste Management and the County, fully covers the collection costs so that any revenue from the recycled materials would be in addition to that.

    • If it really bothers you look into the true cost of recycling.
      Consider your time in separating. (In the city my son lives in he places glass, plastic, paper, aluminum and steel each go in a separate bin. Other cities to a lesser extent. Some require that you rinse “so that animals and flies are not attracted.” Add the cost of collection, transportation, separation (again) and then processing to reuse. Originally the money recovered from paper would cover the cost. Now, the collector PAYS to “recycle” the paper in some communities. The Recycles are aggregated and then hauled again to be finally “recycled” into what they call “recycled” material. Look at the facts on this “recycled” material. The highest percentage I have seen is ~20%. According to the budget for my city 23% of the “trash” collection contract charges are for the “recycling” portion of the contractors fee. That means MY city is PAYING to recycle the recyclables. WHY?
      What if it went into the dump, was converted into methane, and burnt? Then 100 years from now the dump was mined and the solids were processed like a “mine?” Or as other cities do, where they simply burn all of the trash, with a small amount of Natural Gas, make heat or electricity and the molten metal (mostly aluminum) is easily gathered up from the “slag pit” and reprocessed?
      It all boils down to a big “feel good” scam. of course mandated by regulations that make more government jobs.

      • And if you are really, really, bothered look at the “recyclable” labels on all of the fast food containers at your favorite fast food establishment that simply go in the trash as they can’t afford to separate it (and you afford to eat there.)

      • It is good to separate metals from trash before any incineration process that causes non-ferrous metals to melt and mix with each other. I doubt steel melts here, and if it does, it ought to be separated beforehand also. Steel is magnetic, and easily picked out by machines. Aluminum is very energy-intensive to make from ore, and is the only common metal with density close to that of glass as opposed to that of other common metals. Copper and aluminum have much higher electrical conductivity than other common metals, making them separatable by machines that expose moving pieces of metal to a magnetic field.

      • As for the highest percentage being ~20%: I have seen “minimum of 33%” for cardboard sandwich containers this summer at McDonalds, and 25% on my most recent bottle of laundry detergent. I said this before here, and I wonder why I don’t see the first time I said it being here.

      • Usurbrain,
        The things you are talking about are not the way it is done here.
        All recyclables go in one can, everything else in another. Yard waste is separate altogether.
        The machine that sorts the stuff is very efficient, and all these materials have a scrap value.
        Yard waste is made into mulch, which residents can go get for free, which saves money. If you buy it, you still have to drive.
        Compost is sold at a profit, but it is cheaper for the consumer by a lot than buying soil at a home store.
        Metals, and electronics, and plastics, and even paper all have scrap value of dollars per pound or ton.
        Once the sorting machine is in place, and buyers are lined up, it becomes very efficient to recycle.
        After all, the trucks still have to go around and pick it up if it al just garbage.
        and trash to steam is not done by just throwing everything into an incinerator. this would cause all kinds of problems, including toxic smoke if batteries and electronics and all manner of other things are in there.
        Besides, those things have value.
        And if the ash/slag is toxic, it cost a lot of money to dispose of it. Landfill tipping fees are expensive, and are by the ton, and space is at a premium, and certain materials would mess up the bioreactors.
        The people handling it make the best decisions based on how much stuff is worth.
        I can tell you they do burn some stuff to make electricity here. But throwing wet garbage into an incinerator would be a money loser.
        Here (link below) is a great site to apprise oneself of the value of various scrap materials. Keep in mind that markets for these materials are highly variable.
        Steel got very expensive back during the bubble…north of $1000/ton, and at that point even scrap was over $600. But by a few years ago, the price was down closer to $100/ton.
        Electronics are a great example for why stuff should not just be all thrown together and thrown out…there are toxic heavy metals in those components, which if burned or landfilled are a real toxic hazard…but recycled that are very valuable. Cell phones are at about $4/lb. And computers and most other electronics are about the same price per pound as aluminum, roughly. That is the commodity price. The people that buy the scrap and recover the metal make a fortune.
        One mans trash is another mans treasure, and what was once true is no longer the case.
        if you are using old information to form an opinion, it may be no longer valid.
        Also adding another link, to the county I live in, which is a leader in making sense of solid waste.
        http://www.scrapmonster.com/news/plastic-recycling/2

      • @Menicholas
        Those salvage machines would be a massive improvement here. As I said my son had to separate his recyclables by type, yet he still has two trucks and two people on each truck. Where I live we have three trucks, Trash, Recyclables, and ward waste each with two people. They will ONLY take four recyclable plastic types (the number in the triangle) , paper, and CANS. If they see something not on the list, the ben sits there, sometimes they put a sticky note, often not. Then at the recycle center (50 mile round trip) it is sorted by hand on a conveyor belt. 10 to 20 more people tossing stuff in a bigger bin. AND, we get to pay more in taxes for this service. .The only MONEY I see in this is the extra 50 people working collecting and sorting the recyclables.
        If it really is worth money WHY does MY city pay almost a $million a year to collect it and sell it to someone else?

    • It is wise to recycle that which is rare or expensive. Not trash, like plastic milk jugs to newspapers and glass bottles.

      • Plastic milk jugs are made from natural gas. Recycling them reduces need to extract natural gas, and gives us more time before supplies of natural gas get short. Meanwhile, for much of USA, landfill space is expensive and distant.

      • Most recycling is a net loser. Proof? Look at the cost of a ream of “recycled” paper compared to virgin paper. Re-using beats recycling about 10:1.

      • Donald, items in the land fill don’t disappear. They remain their waiting for the economic value to increase to the point where it’s worth recycling them.

      • MarkW, you must be thinking of how they used to do it and thinking they still do it that way.
        Many posters here are repeating things that may have been true twenty years ago, but are no longer the case.
        When copper went to four dollars a pound, a lot changed. When steel went to 1000 a ton, a lot changed, when oil got above $100 things changed.
        Now, prices for oil have fallen, likewise steel and to a lesser extent copper, but processes were put in place when prices were high, and manufacturers incorporated processes to combine recycled materials into their streams.
        Plastic is very sought after, and has been for years.
        All those extruded plastic deck boards, trash cans, ad a hundred other things made from plastic…nearly 100% recycled.
        When oil got to $80-120 a barrel, the cost of virgin polymers skyrocketed.
        It used to be if you had electric wire, you needed to strip out the copper or you could not even give it away at a scrap yard. But when copper got over $3 a pound, they started taking anything with copper and paying good money for it.
        Insulated wire is now easily sold at well over a dollar a pound.
        Scrap motors used to be almost worthless, fetching the same price as scrap iron.
        No more. Last time I checked, motors were at about 30 cents a pound. Might not sound like much, but if you are in the business of replacing worn out motors when they fail, and you start putting them in a pile instead of throwing them out, after a year you might have 10 tons or more. A five HP submersible motor weights about 80 pounds.
        Same with scrap wire. if you repair electrical machinery or are an electrician, and start throwing every little scrap of wire in a trash can, it adds up. By the time it is half full two men can barely lift such a trash can. Insulated wire is about a dollar to 1.25 a pound these days, but has been as high as 1.50/lb.
        Brass? 2.40 for yellow and 2.10 for red is not out of the question, once you have enough to negotiate a good price.
        High grades of stainless steel, like 315 or better, electronics (esp cell phones-over $4/lb!), motors, and just about any non-ferrous metals get a price comparable and usually much higher than aluminum.
        Cans fetch the lowest price, because the have ink on the outside and coatings on the inside of the cans.
        http://www.scrapmonster.com/scrap-prices/category/Electronics-Scrap/2/1/1

    • In Hollywood, Florida we , proudly recycle. The City supplies rolling bins. Collected twice each week.
      The bins are the same size as the garbage bins yet my recycle bin fills twice as fast as the garbage bin.
      All REAL Environmentalists/Conservationists should strive to reduce their input to landfills.
      That’s what we do.
      There is no fear or guilt involved.

      • Sorry, I don’t think that’s true. Recycling aluminum and other metals make sense because of high energy cost to extract them from ores. Plastic and glass recycling does make much sense. Municipalities are having to pay a lot of money to keep these recycling programs running. No one wants landfills in their backyard but there is so much land where our waste can be stored that this shouldn’t really be a problem.

      • “All REAL Environmentalists/Conservationists should strive to reduce their input to landfills.”
        Begging the question fallacy.

      • RobRoy is right. Scrap materials markets have vastly improved in the past ten years.
        As have collections efficiency and sorting.
        It is a fallacy that just throwing it all out is cheaper.
        Do some homework.

    • Dumps are still recycling. It’s just that future generations will be doing the recycling. Recycle where it makes sense, but when it doesn’t, just throw it out and don’t let the do gooders make you feel guilty.

    • Concur with recycling. Central OK just added a new DIY facility with 10 large dump containers allowing mixed recyclables (except foam, glass and stretch plastic/recycled @ Walmart). They also recycle small appliances such as TV’s printers etc inside the facility. Cardboard is placed in separate containers. The containers fill fairly quickly. I use 2 large boxes in the garage, one for paper &one for plastic &cans; then just take and dump the boxes at the facility.. The savings in trash bags pays for the gas to drive there which is near a shopping area and timed thusly. Cut the trash from two containers to less than one per week.

      • The savings from hand washing your clothes vs. using an electric washer is also real.. Why don’t you do that also?
        Eugene WR Gallun

      • Are you for real Eugene?
        Do you have a chip on your shoulder for diverting useful materials from the waste stream?
        BTW, modern washing machines do the job far more efficiently than anyone ever could by hand…using far less water and soap.
        But I am sure you will scoff at this too, huh?
        Are you just a grumpy curmudgeon?

      • Well Eugene, it takes a lot of labor and time to hand wash clothes and then air dry them. Now we keep a small plastic tub in the kitchen (where most of the trash comes from) and toss the stuff in there instead of the trash can; no time difference there. Now when it’s full, I take it on a short trip to the garage boxes instead of the trash containers outside; less time there AND I saved having to dump a kitchen trash container and reline it with plastic bag; less time and money. Now it does take about 10 extra minutes(NOT the same as hand washing/drying clothes)/4 miles (round trip) to go by the recycling facility about every 2 weeks which is only slightly out of the way to the grocery store/shopping, but we did save a couple of dollars in trash sack liners for that (and which didn’t have to be manually dumped). The plastic grocery sacks we put in the Walmart holding pan on the way in to the store. Not a bad trade considering.

    • We are victims of our success. We collect so much that there is not much of a market for the stuff.

  4. The exponential elaboration of laws and regulations has the effect of making criminals out of us all. Every traveler that brings a 6-pack home from Phoenix and doesn’t just throw the cans in the trash is technically a law-breaker. The sum of those cans probably dwarfs what the long-haul trucker grabs.
    There is a simple solution to this problem. Simply require that cans be labelled with the state in which they are sold. As long as Joe Sixpack’s Phoenix purchases are labeled with the return value of several states (including, perhaps, CA), he will blithely assume that they are returnable in CA. Of course this ‘solution’ simply lays more regulation (and logistical problems) on the backs of our once-free citizens.

    • It used to be the case. Cans/containers were labelled with the amount you could get in various states.
      Florida used to have deposits, but I think they did away with them. Ridiculous logistics.

      • That’s not a problem as they still sell those cans in all states, even states without recycling programs.
        What he wants is for cans that are sold in FL to be marked FL, and it would be illegal to sell those cans in any other state.

      • More laws, that’s what we need.
        I want all the lawmakers to just continuously make thousands of news laws and regulations, all day everyday, and never erase any old ones off the books.
        Oh, wait…never mind…that is what they already do.
        God forbid people should just do what makes sense and leave the gubbnamint out of any damn thing.

    • That requirement would be a logistics nightmare as most bottlers only have a handful of plants scattered across the country. Requiring different runs for each state, and then keeping track of which container has to go to which state would be another nightmare. Not to mention the problem that you couldn’t shift inventory from one state to another to deal with shortages.

      • Mark, you lie! : >)
        That’s not what I want!
        I merely point out that it would solve one problem by creating new ones, such as the logistics nightmare to which you refer.
        What I want is fewer laws, and a lot fewer agency regulations.

  5. I think this territorial recycling law is silly. We transport trees across state lines, the ultimate in recycling business as ever there was. Why is recycling aluminum across state lines wrong? Yes get rid of the subsidies and price used aluminum for what re-melting plants are offering. And be done with these silly recycling laws. Let business determine recycling, not watermelon heads.

    • Oh, you’re going to regret reminding me of the punchline of that joke:
      “But didn’t you know it is illegal to transport gulls over stately lions for immortal porpoises?”
      btw I agree with you premise (bad jokes aside)

    • It is not recycling that is the problem…they are collecting a deposit back for a container that had no deposit made when it was sold.

      • I happen to agree with you, Pamela.
        I do not think this is defrauding the government anyway.
        The deposit is far more money than the scrap value of the metal.
        Aluminum cans sell for about 50/lb at the scrap yards. That is all the metal is worth.
        Now, at 32 cans per pound, that makes the metal in a can worth less than two cents.
        Subtract the cost of the diesel fuel to drive to CA, and the cost for gathering the cans to begin with, and wear and tear on the truck, etc, and I see little profit to be made here. Wonder how much he stood to earn vs what the penalty was for getting caught?
        Not exactly the crime of the century. Just about any non-ferrous materials are worth more that aluminum.
        One decent sized electric motor can weight 20-100 lbs and get more than half the amount per pound.
        So one average fifty pound motor is equivalent to 750 cans or so. And you can get the money within a ten minute drive of any population center.

    • Great grandma, now deceased, had a gem. Basically said she grew up in the great depression when they had very little but never thought she’d see the day when we had to wash our trash.
      I’ll know recycling has become economically viable when people are bidding for mine. (with their own dollars, not our tax dollars). I think it was a dirty jobs episode from a recycle in San Fran. where they have people sorting recyclables and I’m thinking as soon as a human has to touch (labor) that cardboard box the value has gone negative.

  6. If the intent of the law is to encourage recycling because it’s a good thing, why should recycling out-of-state containers be discouraged? It’s all good for the planet, right? Besides, I thought the left was against discrimination based on country of origin.

    • If it was important that as many recyclable containers as possible got recycled, then these individual entrepreneurs would be heroes. However, this is environmental policy, results don’t matter, the only important thing is the funding formula:
      $$$ public———> $$$ government———–> $$$ green blob
      Those attempting to subvert the funding formula will be prosecuted.

    • I’m pretty sure you could recycle those cans and get the value of the aluminum for them. The problem is that when you certify that the buyer of those cans paid the state deposit on them, when he hadn’t. That’s fraud.

  7. When I was a boy, my brothers and I kept ourselves in cash by roaming the country roads and picking up bottles with a deposit/return. Paid for many baseballs and BBs and patches for bicycle tubes that way. All of that was swept away years ago with the advent of “no deposit no return” packaging.

    • I used to collect aluminium cans, and take them to the scrap dealer as well. Real money for a kid. I have no problem with scrap merchants paying economic value for metal.

  8. How about the major fraud involving the Carbon Credits. Remember Pachauri and his link to Tata. The Corus RedCar steel plant in UK employing 1,700 workers was closed cuz Corus got about 650 Million in carbon credits. Corus then built a new steel plant in India that was more efficient than existing steel plants in India (not UK), then Corus would get hundreds of millions annually from the Clean Development Fund.
    Thole scam centered on closing plants in developed economies with severe regulations and open new plants in less developed countries with lesser regulations. Along the way, they reap hundreds of millions to boot.

  9. Cal doesn’t like to encourage any more redemptions than possible. The CRV is just merely another consumption tax the pols enjoy spending, with a small but manageable fraction having to be rebated back to recycling consumers.

  10. A bottle-bill system is an excellent way to make people recycle bottles and cans.
    The downsides include
    – Containers are artificially recycled even when it actually does not make sense in terms of energy and material reused. That is, used glass is worth so little that the bottles may end up in landfill in any case. All the work is in vain in those cases.
    – The system can be used by big players to limit competition on market. Small companies might need to subsidy the bigger ones in order to get their bottles included in the system – or face a tax penalty.
    – Different kind of possibilities of frauds require a small CRV, which undermines the system.
    – Recycling by returning can by can is inefficient, as the cans could be crushed and paid by weight of the aluminium, which is the point of collecting them in the first place.
    – Businesses are interested in this, because it is a way to call the client back to shop to do more shopping.

    • Glass is not recycled, but it is easier to sort it out at the curb by the person throwing it out than any other way.
      You do not want bottles in your incinerator.
      Believe it or not, there are some places where things are done in a way which makes sense. And throwing everything into a landfill makes zero. Land is expensive. And just try to open a new landfill somewhere. The NIMBYs will be out in force.

      • The issue is California. Barstow has 20,000,000 acres of back yard. I doubt it is expensive.

  11. Some factoid snippets and data pulled directly from the Cal state CRV bureaucrat’s webpages:

    -“CalRecycle is pleased to report that the overall recycling rate for calendar year 2014 was 80 percent. The recycling rate for the first half of 2014 was 84 percent. The second half calendar year recycling rate was lower than the first half at 78 percent, which is consistent with the trend observed over the life of the recycling program.”
    – “During 2014, Californians recycled more than 17.7 billion beverage containers. California continues to lead the nation in total quantity of bottles and cans recycled.”
    – “Californians bought more than 21 billion carbonated and noncarbonated CRV-eligible drinks in aluminum, glass, plastic, and bi-metal containers in 2013. More than 18.2 billion of those containers were recycled,”

    Doing the simple math and making an assumption that the 5c and 10c redemptions are split 2:1, then the average redemption is worth $0.0667. (for 4:1, its $0.06 exact).
    For 2013, then the unreturned containers resulted in a $187,000,000 (2:1) ( or $168M at 4:1) gross revenue to Cal from the program. If 1/3 is bureacratic overhead and transportation, then Cal state pols get about $120 – $110 million a year to redistribute to favored environmental programs. Not chicken feed when one considers Cals entire state wide parks. The 2012-2013 appropriation was $110,591,000 and 2013-2014 was $114,552,000.

    • Californians can help fund Governor Moonbeam’s pet projects by simply tossing their soda cans in the trash rather than recycling. Especially considering that the recycled glass market has cratered, thus most used glass containers in the US are just now crushed and put in a landfill as there is no market incentive to recycle the glass. Sand is cheap, and recycled glass containers have lots of contamination issues that recyclers have to deal with in worker and environmentally safe manners.

      • I meant soda glass bottles and glass beer bottles. Very little if any post consumer glass is now being recycled. It is being crushed and placed in landfills in most states now.

    • “The recycling rate for the first half of 2014 was 84 percent.”
      A few more truck loads from Nevada and they’ll easily exceed 100 percent (!).
      Ha ha ha ha.

    • Most people in California now have to trash bins. one for recyclable materials and one for everything else. In some places you also get a third container for yard waste Most people today don’t bother going to the redemption centers to claim the CRV. It probably now cost more to drive to the redemption center than the CRV is worth.
      Most people just put the cans in the recycle bin. The CRV was implemented in the 80 and has served it’s purpose and the state should consider discontinuing it.

  12. Recycling is a ridiculous proposition anyway as are land fills. There is absolutely no reason that solid waste shouldn’t be disposed of via plasma incineration and all economically important components recovered including significant amounts of hydrocarbons.

      • “I give you Scranton, PA. Bankrupted themselves on that incineration folly they did.”
        NO. Scranton’s main issues are union and labor related, crazy multiple pension plans and wages a judge wouldn’t let them cut. Usual ongoing nonsense of spending like they still had a manufacturing base bringing in revenue.
        Harrisburg, our state capitol, still has the incinerator problem, and many more.
        Comparison piece from 2012:
        Scranton’s problems not as profound as Harrisburg’s

      • kadaka, you are correct. In my recall I confused the two. Harrisburg is indeed the incinerator-fueled bankruptcy. I should have googled it to check, but recalled Scranton had a bankruptcy issue and the incinerator debacle from Harrisburg got mixed in that.

    • How do you recover anything after plasma incineration? Catch the vapors and use a giant GC to separate out different metals?
      There are all sorts of things that get thrown out that should not be burned.
      There is not a one size fits all for everything that people dispose of.

  13. I had acquaintances a while back who used to gather up every used can they could find every time they took a car trip out of state.
    The money they collected was often enough to for their gas.
    This type of fraud is quite common, though the guy listed in this article was certainly on the high end when it comes to volume.

    • I have to check on postage rates. I’m wondering if 5 cents a can is enough to cover shipping a few hundred crushed cans to friends in CA.

      • In Massachusetts, they do something similar on the 5c bottle rebate. Butthe recycling machines are computerized, laser scanning the cans and bottle.UPC codes as they are fed in. Thus if you crush or remove the UPC coded label you might as well toss it in the trash.
        While the pols sold these as environmental programs, like red light cameras and carbon taxes, the real incentive isthe creation of a new revenue stream for bigger government.

  14. Why do people find it so hard to believe that government funding can produce bad science? The problem with climate science IS government funding. Industry is not allowed to defend the arguments being used against it. Public opinion will not tolerate any industry-funded climate science. Okay, so we have independent researchers all over the globe (thousands of them) showing just how false gov-funded climate research is. The public still cries that these researchers and investigative reporters are funded by fossil fuel industries. How stupid can people be? They point to the tobacco industry, as if that has anything to do with this.
    Do people seriously think “nonprofits” don’t have agendas? CGW theory is nothing but political, bureaucratic bullshit. (It wasn’t always, of course. At one time, long ago, it was a legitimate theory.) If people were capable of reviewing the data and analyzing the arguments, we wouldn’t be seeing tis ideological hatred of hydrocarbons.
    When governmental “scientific” bodies are accusing major industries of something labeled urgent and catastrophic, industry-backed science ought to have a chance to defend itself. Even though it does not, people out to find the truth have done a superb job of calling bullshit on AGW theory anyway. Even with no funding these people have won the debate a long time ago. The public can’t see it yet because they aren’t getting all the information. They just don’t care to look hard enough. They think it only affects those of us who depend on fossil fuel industries for employment. It shows how much they care about the rest of us. But, of course it does affect them. Their energy bills have gone up, they’re investing in bad science so as to lead to only more taxation and bureaucratic nonsense, and they have allowed themselves to be led down a path into believe the opposite of what is going on climatologically, geologically, and historically.
    If there is one thing skeptics can do to get through to our uninformed public opinion it is this:
    Make it public knowledge that the arctic was warm during the last glacial. Almost no one knows this. A warming arctic is an INDICATION OF THE NEXT GLACIAL, not global warming. As everywhere else is cooling (especially so far this year) and ocean currents are changing, the warming arctic is especially significant, but not how most people think it is, of course. Spread GISPII graphs all over the web. SHOW them that it has been much warmer during the Holocene, and has been cooling for the last 5,000 years. Show them that major empires fell when there were drops in global temperatures, even by a few degrees. This is what they need to know. This is what will encourage good discussion. We can have public opinion on our side before the next election and before the Paris conference in December.

  15. Everything should go into the garbage and head for the dump. All recycling should be done at the garbage dump. I know of no location where recycling at the curb side is cost effective.
    Some years ago, professor Rathje (the garbage king) of Arizona had it all defined, but the politicians and environmentalists didn’t want to know. They still don’t. My local city council dare not do a cost/benefit study for fear of what they will learn.
    I have three garbage trucks go by me on garbage collection day where there used to be one.

    • Philadelphia and most of its suburbs don’t need three trucks – they use two trucks. And I have seen workers on recyclables trucks making use of their time while the truck is moving – by doing sorting, probably of a kind humans do better than machines do. Machines can sort metal and glass from other materials, steel from non-ferrous metals, and aluminum from other non-ferrous metals.

    • Totally agree.
      Now you pay more to get your garbage collected and on top of that, you have to do the sorting job for them at home. And locate a larger space in your home to put the recycling bins.

      • As I detailed up thread my cost for trash collection and recycling pick up is about $3 per week in my taxes. I have no problem with that and think it is a bargain. As for sorting at home, you do that with each piece. Instead of throwing it in the garbage bag you simply throw it in on of the recycling bins. It takes no more effort to do that.

    • What is so hard about putting metal, paper, plastic and glass in one can and all other trash in another?
      Guess what, the biggest cost if they did it the way jsuther suggests is the tipping fee at the landfill.
      It aint done the way it used to be.
      Cadmium is toxic in groundwater at low concentrations, as are several other metals.
      But if separated, these metals can be reused. The only safe thing to do with them.
      I think many here have no idea how the economics of solid waste has changed over the years, and from one locale to another.
      There is no room for landfills in Florida, and no one wants any more of them…they stink for miles around in hot weather, which is almost all the time here. And they must be above ground, due to the water table.
      This subject seems to be one where several people I usually agree with have it all wrong.

  16. Anytime there is money offered in exchange for a product or service, there is a de facto market. Wherever there is a market, there will be people who will try to ‘game’ the system to make greater profits. If a government is involved, the ignorance that the government has concerning practical micro-scale economics will make it the scam victim of choice.
    This is as predictable as Medicare Fraud by physicians.

  17. The bottle bills really are not necessary. As soon as virgin aluminum went up in price, someone with entrepreneurial sense would have seen the money laying along side the road. Let the market take care of waste. If money can be made from waste, waste will get picked up and reused. Given that the price of manufacturing from virgin material will always eventually go up, recycling will make business sense without any interference from big brother.
    Why is it that government meddling to impose group think ALWAYS costs money. Private business recycling, if profitable, earns money, and if it doesn’t and goes bust, I won’t have to pay for the &%^$# bailout.
    Our various levels of government need to stay the hell out of boardrooms, bedrooms, hospital rooms, school rooms (even that), and women’s wombs. With one and only one exception: to make sure that the laws of the land protect individual rights.
    The US is a libertarian republic, not a democratic majority rule country. Our constitution put that into place to secure the liberties listed in our Declaration of Independence on an individual basis. Those liberties are stated at the individual level by the phrase “to OURSELVES” in the constitution:
    “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
    This means that we rule for the individual, not this group or that, and those rules must mirror our Declaration of Independence individual liberties:
    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    All this is to say the charges levied against the person crossing state lines with popcans was done so in violation of the very reasons why we are the United States of America. He was pursing his rights. California is wrong on this one. In a very big way. Constitutionally as well as fiscally. If California passed a law that results in them losing money because someone brought a recyclable product across their border, then they were just plain stupid for passing such a law. If they really understood how to attract business, they would pay a better price for recycled aluminum and then attract an aluminum plant business within their borders.
    Suggestion: California could go back to Mexico so we can put a proper fence around that state and keep them from mucking up a good thing.

    • Pamela Gray: Those liberties are stated at the individual level by the phrase “to OURSELVES” in the constitution:
      Good quote! Don’t forget the next three words: and our posterity. Only works if our posterity have the right to survive gestation.
      Hmm. I rhink we’re off topic again. : > )

  18. If recycling is GOOD, profitable, then why just bottles, cans, paper and plastic? What do with that portable drill when the battery goes bad? A New battery costs 3/4th of what the drill sells for and it comes with two batteries! Then there is the TV, it costs more to repair a 4 yr old TV than a similar size model sells for with higher quality pictures and better features. Then they want $25 -$50 to “recycle” the broken one when you by anew one. All the “recycling” does is keep it out of the dump at your expense. Where is the “deposit on the TV like on Lead Acid Batteries???? Google the internet for the “recycle” dumps in China, where kids are going through mountains of broken TVs and computers scavenging for anything of value. The same politicians that enact this stupidity are the first ones to throw the broken drill, shaver, coffeepot, mixer, microwave, radio, headphones, etc., etc., in the TRASH with no guilt whatsoever. Hypocrites to the MAX.

  19. criminals are still active in what is left of the world’s carbon markets
    The so-called carbon markets are a criminal conspíracy

  20. Originally soda bottles had a deposit fee because they were actually washed, disinfected, and used again. It was a fee…..$.02 for small/12oz. bottles and $.05 for larger quart bottles….that the soft drink companies charged to offset their costs since the bottles cost them more than the product. At first there was no charge for a can. The fee today to ‘encourage recycling’ is a minsnomer. The real reason is to stop people from littering with the empty cans. Yes they are recycled, but that wasn’t the original reason to start charging. Collecting bottles was a profitable and noble trade for young Americans ‘back in the day’. You could easily make $1 a day when it bought something. Bought me a bag of rice or loaf of bread during lean college years on several occasions.

    • Down here at the end of the world there was a time when all bottles had a deposit levied on them. Such items as milk were 4d a pint with a bottle, but 10d a pint without, meaning that the bottle was worth more than the contents. Every year organisations such as Scouts or Rotary held what were called “Bottle drives” to collect the many bottles emptied over the Christmas New year period. The bottles were valuable enough to finance e.g. scouts for an entire year with the once a year collection. The bottles were cleaned and reused but someone did a cost benefit analysis and determined that it cost more in time, energy and water to reuse than to make new each time. The bottle companies stopped charging deposits and redeeming the bottles, resulting in littering of the environment and great cost to the rate payers. The end results have really been disastrous. Unforeseen consequences struck again.

    • About time someone explained the way the original deposit system worked. (Well, I first dealt with it when Coca-Cola came in 6.5 oz bottles.) The shell that held 24 bottles also had a 2¢ value (we used cents signs back then) so the full case had a deposit value of 50¢.
      Of course, with the distinctive bottle shapes, Coke bottles went back on the Coke truck, Pepsi bottles went back on the Pepsi truck. Beer companies did things a bit differently. They used a standardized brown bottle with a paper label. So beer bottles went back someplace or other, but they’d eventually get cleaned and the label removed, then distributed to beer bottlers who’d fill the bottles and slap on a new label.
      This sort of depost/reuse system is far cheaper, energywise, than today’s systems – the cost of transporting and washing a bottle is some 5% of melting and reforming a glass or metal can.

      • AND . . . Coke bottles had the town of origin on the bottom. Great fun seeing where it came from when you were done.

    • I think you have the old deposit rationale a little wrong. It was always a deposit, not a fee…that is why you got it back if you returned the bottles. If it was a fee, it would not be refunded.
      And the bottling companies encouraged this because it was cheaper for them to collect used bottles and wash them out and reuse them than to make new ones. And the trucks which delivered the soda or beer would collect the used empties on the return trip. It was an efficient system.
      But several factors changed this. One was using less glass to make the bottles. They used to be very heavy and thick.
      Another was manufacturing techniques…it got cheaper to make bottles. Then the advent of aluminum cans, and twist off tops, and lighter bottles, and then plastic bottles. Plus people just got too busy to mess around with all those old bottles.
      It was one thing when most food and drinks were bought in small grocery stores, quite another when larger markets and supermarkets took hold of things.
      Who remembers when milk and bread were delivered by the Milkman and the Breadman, right to your house?
      *OT daydreaming* Here in Florida, they still had those recyclable bottles well into the eighties and I think early nineties, and soda sure tasted better in them. I think the way they were sealed and the thick glass made higher levels of carbonation possible. Or maybe it was just drinking out of glass instead of plastic or aluminum.

  21. I think the fraud is being conducted by the State of California. They collect much more than they pay out. It is really a container tax.

  22. Back 50 or so years ago, I use to collect bottles from the ditches around town and return them for the deposit. As I recall, I got 3 cents per bottle. Of course, I’d turn right around and purchase a candy bar and a soda. I did this till I was old enough to get a job. My brother did the same till the no deposit no return bottles began. I actually think we recycled more back 50 years ago than today. Milk came in quart glass bottles and the empties were picked up by the milkman when he brought more milk. Would it be possible to go back to glass containers like we had 50 years ago or are plastics that much cheaper?

    • Was that in Pennsylvania? It was one of the first states to enact a bottle deposit law … then was one of the first to repeal it by popular demand.

    • Plastic is cheaper, mainly because of the high energy cost of producing glass, involving temps well over 2000°F. Glass is also heavier, increasing transportation costs.

  23. I’m confused again. Surely this is just an example of interstate commerce, where an item is taken to where it is of the most value? As far as “smuggling” goes I would have thought that it was legal transportation. There is no attempt at evading duties or taxes.
    Has California gone so [mad] that they are trying to ban normal commercial activity? If so then the rest of the U.S. may start banning Californian products as illegal competition.

    • It’s not smuggling, it’s fraud. There is nothing wrong with bringing the containers into California. The containers can be legally sold to the recycler at the their scrap value. The problem comes when they try to get a refund on the deposit, for containers that never had the deposit put on them.

      • Moderators, for crying out loud. If you are going to have an article that talks about fraud, can’t you turn off fraud as one of the naughty words?
        [Life happens. Then you die. Deal with it. 8<) .mod]

  24. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/02/23/smugglers-still-cashing-in-on-michigan-can-refund/1941567/
    This is nothing new and is an especially big problem for the state of Michigan that has a 10c deposit on cans. I live in Indiana which has no deposit on cans and travel to Detroit Michigan to assist my elderly father around half a dozen times a year. It would be easy to save up and bring our Indiana cans to Michigan to get 10c for them on trips to Detroit. Besides the fact that this is not ethical behavior, laws that have consequences for those that get busted(even with a tiny chance of that occurring)are a good deterrent for people that exercise good judgment.
    Not that I always exercise good judgment but the thought of waiting for the cops to come after an attempt to defraud is discovered, then going to court and paying a fine that would likely exceed any benefits from cashing in the out of state cans is pretty unappealing.

  25. Shocked that CA doesn’t force sellers to print CA identifying marks on cans and bottles. After all, shifting this cost would be just one more small part of the forced labor and cost shifting state mandated distributed recycling entails.

      • Hard to see how transport amounts to recycling fraud then. They throw the book at him; he pleads out; the actual case is not aired; we never learn whether the press release claims were true. Interesting the prosecutors and cops did not wait until delivery was made.

  26. When I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii as a kid, I used to seek out all the favorite spots where fishermen would fish with a pole from the rocks, and then dive there to collect the zillions of lead weights that would invariably snag on the coral.
    Then I’d put the weights in coffee cans, build a big fire around the cans (great fun!), create cylindrical lead ingots, and sell them to a recycler.
    With the capital accumulated, I created Max Photon International, an amalgamated conglomerate focusing on core industries in key technological arenas. Today its slogan is: Get the Lead Out.
    Perhaps that explains why I have an IQ of 57.

    • Max Photon —
      The whole thing is funny but it took a moment for me to get the joke.
      I don’t know if lead poisoning lowers IQ but it certainly seems to make you weird.
      Eugene WR Gallun

    • I pick up the lead tire weights that fall off cars. I read somewhere that reloaders (people who recycle bullet casings) like the tire weights because of the Antimony in the alloy making it very close to what is used in commercial bullets.

  27. It is quite a coincidence that nearly 1 in 4 WUWT commenters used the funds raised, by scouring ditches for old bottles, to put themselves through college and keep from starving during the Great depression.
    Some extravagant soul was spending a lot of time consuming beverages out of doors and discarding the highly valuable containers into local ditches and swales to make this possible, that seems clear.
    I do know that at least one California comedy duo bought most of their life-saving baloney by scavenging for bottles in empty lots, during the hardscrabble years prior to hitting the big time on the big screen. Thank the Lord for Orange Crush!

  28. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7839857.stm
    paper, not worth recycling in the UK. (I remember my school, in the 1970s, having paper recycling. The Health & Safety culture put a stop to that, a big stack of flammables under the main stairs in one of the school’s blocks.
    The recycling in the UK, is driven by EU rules. Many EU countries don’t have large holes they can fill with rubbish, so to encourage recycling, there’s a landfill tax.

  29. When I was a kid we lived on a Southern Cal beach, I was a bit young but my older brother would pick up all the left over bottles on the beach as the day’s crowds left and we would haul them in a wagon down to the local grocers for refunds. Good money for a 7 year old.

  30. Where I live we have a transfer station, where trash separation is mandatory. For unsorted trash there is a per-pound fee of 7 cents, as well as fees for certain items like tires, furniture, equipment, and a 7 cents per pound fee on demolition. The recycling keeps costs down due to lower tipping fees, as well as whatever income from the actual recycled materials. Of course, people have the option of paying to have their trash picked up, or paying for that service thru somewhat higher apartment rent.
    We sort our trash, not because it is “good for the planet” but because it saves us money, albeit with a little extra work on our part. We make sure our trash is clean, minimizing our trips to the center. We have a bump-out on our kitchen, built about 20 years ago when we had some renovation work done. This has containers for cans (metal and aluminum), glass, and plastic, and when full those are emptied into barrels we keep in the basement. Paper is in a separate container, which also gets emptied into a barrel downstairs. Kitchen scraps go in compost, down back. Everything that is flattenable gets flattened, to cut down on bulk. We take a load to the center, which is actually only about 2 miles away something like every 2-3 months. It’s a bit of a pain, but we have it pretty much down to a science.

  31. Im not sute what recyling does besides making throwing out the trash more annoying and giving people who get pinched a place to fill their community service hours. I haven’t done much research on the impact. I basically recycle everything to impress women my age if they happen to go through my trash.

  32. “However, this case serves as a reminder, that green subsidies attract criminals like maggots to rotten meat. ”
    Please be very,very careful calling the CRV a “subsidy.
    Very similar the the falsehood that liberals claim about “subsidies” to big oil.

  33. While there’s a lot to be said for recycling, I have this dark-minded suspicion that kitchen waste policy is dictated by the desire of WMI (for example) and other operators to move their rat infestations problems from their sites to homes and local collection sites.

  34. I think a lot of comments on this miss the point of a bottle/can deposit. It’s not about any economic value for recycling, it’s primary purpose is to significantly reduce or eliminate litter.
    People will reach into garbage bins near food places and grab bottles and cans, it’s essentially just dimes that someone else voluntarily donated. When I buy beverages I throw the empties into a container, and every few months I take a load to the bottle depot. I dump them into a bin, someone comes along and does the sorting and counting, I get cash, and only a small amount of time is spent on it.
    It’s not about recycling. The bottle depot usually hires people that have no other skills, or would otherwise be on assistance. It’s a crappy job, but at least it’s a job.
    US and Canadian beverages are packaged differently. Most depots instantly spot the differences, and although they will take the US cans or bottles they don’t pay for them.
    All in all it’s a good system, WHEN everyone is participating. I really don’t understand the reluctance. I pay 10 cents for a can, I get 10 cents back, and it’s extremely rare to find cans or bottles littering the city. This is one “do good” program that has nothing but positives in the real world.

  35. Something’s not right here. Why, why, why on Earth would Reuters actually bother to run a news story about this. The only possible explanation I can come up with is to thoroughly embarrass the state of California. I mean, c’mon, why would anybody, anywhere, possibly arrest Cesar Vargas for this. You can’t really say this is thievery. I mean, does anybody know anybody who’s ever called the police to report an empty beer bottle having been stolen? “Officer, an empty soda pop can has been stolen out of my refuse container.” Do the police ever really get calls like that?
    Or, smuggling? Smuggling is drugs, firearms, or human trafficking. It is most definitely not empty pop cans or beer bottles.
    Grand theft? Theft is when somebody takes something without giving anything back in return. Last time I checked Cesar Vargas was giving them 7,000 pounds back in return. If he’s a thief he’s the hardest working thief I’ve ever known. Heck, he’s probably one of the most productive members of society there is.
    So what is it with the arrest and likely incarceration of Cesar Vargas for the non-crime of the century; the non-crime of the millennium?
    Typical liberal/progressives; they muck everything up in the economy then spend dollars trying to fleece non-criminals for pennies. I’ll bet these sanctimonious morons added 30 days and a $500 fine to his sentence because Cesar Vargas was picking his navel during the booking procedure. It’s what they are.

  36. Do the cans in CA still have several other states embossed on the can? If so there is the problem. It has been 25 years since I was in CA but I an sure they were marked that way. Many states as I drive from Iowa to NY have multiple states embossed on the can. Some even have two rows with one row for 5 cents and another for 10. Seems like a Bottler problem. Don’t let the bottler make cans out of state.

  37. I’m with the truck driver on this one. He goes to the trouble of collecting all that recyclable material and gets charged by the government for upsetting their subsidy program. Why not let the free market take over? If too many cans are showing up then reduce the return amount. Who cares where they come from. Isn’t the point to recycle?

  38. Um, I don’t really think anybody would willingly accept, or admit to, a job title such as ‘California recycling enforcement agent.’ So, I’ll be kind and simply refer to the California state dufus who arrested Cesar Vargas as an officer and allow him at least some pride.
    Now, if I was that officer I think I’d dig a hole, crawl into it, and try to disappear.
    I mean, let’s think about how his day went following that non-courageous arrest. He gets home:
    “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy’s home! Mommy, mommy, daddy’s home! Daddy did you arrest some bad guys?”
    “Son, I’d rather not talk about it.”
    “C’mon daddy, did you arrest some scary bad guys like Spider-Man or Batman does?”
    “Son, please stop it.”
    “Biffy, go to your room and leave your father alone, he’s tired. Honey, how did work go today?”
    “I’d rather not talk about it.”
    I’m your wife. We have to confide in each other. I can help you. Tell me what happened. Please. For us.”
    “Uh, oh well, ok. I made an arrest.”
    “You weren’t hurt or anything? So, what’s the problem? You got a bad guy off the street. You’re protecting us. You made the community safer. You’re a hero. You’re my hero. You showed courage. You made the world a better place.”
    “Honey, stop it.”
    “Oh, you’re too shy. You’re a hero and you don’t want to admit it. Tell me, please tell me. Who did you arrest? For what?”
    It is at this point that our officer turns tail, exits the home, grabs a shovel and starts digging a hole. He is subsequently arrested by the State of California for illegal hole digging.

  39. Option 1: the raw materials (after accounting for processing and sorting cost) is worth more than the 5c deposit.
    If so, CA shouldn’t be “enforcing” border security on bottles. They should be laughing at the neighbouring states giving them 10c worth of stuff for 5c and encouraging any other states that stupid to also bring all their bottles to CA.
    Option 2: if the recycling actually consumes more than the value of the deposit, they should not only prevent Nevadans doing it – they should stop Californians.
    Option 3: it’s all about landfill cost in which case they should use all that land instead of building bird fryers on it.

  40. I recently bought a 12oz can of R134a to recharge the air conditioner in my car. The deposit on the can was $10. Yes, that’s 10 dollars not 10 cents. You can bet I took that can back as soon as I had emptied it. My question is… Why did the state of CA do that?

    • Started in 2011 to reduce GHG emissions: Notice the “90” days
      “The recycling program involves consumers, retailers, and manufacturers. A $10 deposit will be required for each container of automotive refrigerant at the time of purchase. Containers are required to be returned within 90 days with a valid, retailer’s proof of purchase for refund of the deposit. Retailers will collect all used small containers from consumers and return them to the original manufacturer for recycling.”

  41. This makes no sense whatsoever. Either empty cans and bottles have a value or they don’t. The fact that they come from somewhere else should have no bearing on it at all. What this says to me is that “recycling” is not cost effective at all and is a complete waste of time and money.

    • David commented: This makes no sense whatsoever. …..“recycling” is not cost effective at all and is a complete waste of time and money.”
      I repeat…..the original purpose of having a bottle deposit was to get them back for reuse. True recycling and cost effective at the time, That morphed into “save the planet from litter” and like everything else in the environmental movement the narrative doesn’t follow the reality. When a can/bottle deposit is more trouble, effort, and time to redeem than it’s worth, and the economics of recycling prevent it from going through the process, it becomes a tax to pay for trash collection. It’s when one man’s trash becomes another man’s trash.

  42. There is one thing in all this thread that really bothers me. If recycling is really profitable, why aren’t they paying us for what they collect from the recyclable bins? I can understand paying to have real trash removed, but if valuable recyclables are really worth something, why isn’t that value offsetting our trash removal or even generating us a profit?

    • It is offsetting some of the costs. Taxes would be higher if they were not reducing costs. Unless you live in one of the places that they always raise rates and even if their costs go down, they just spend the money on new office furniture or “training junkets”.

  43. I will post it again here so more will see it.
    Everything has some value.
    The trick is accumulating enough of like materials in one place to be able to sell it at a profit.
    The sorting process and economies of scale dictate what is worth doing and what is not.
    Try to get some dirt delivered to your house to fill in a low spot in your yard…end you will find you have to pay to get it. Even if in your same area, others are having to pay to have dirt taken away.
    The value is determined by many factors, which in an open market is translated into variable prices.
    Scroll through the various tabs and ads on this site…you will see that nearly every part of the solid waste stream has some value to someone, somewhere. As with most things in industry, efficiency is key.
    http://www.scrapmonster.com/

  44. I used to have to pay a fee to have a credit card in my wallet, way back when in the 1980’s.
    Then things got more competitive and some card issuers realized that some customers are valuable enough to offer them a free card in order to get more of the business.
    Still later, it was realized that even if card issuers were to actually pay the cardholder to use it, they would still make money, and by doing so, they could get enough extra business to make more profit than they otherwise would.
    So now I have cards with no annual fee, and that repay me 1 or 2% of all my purchases.
    If I am smart, and mange my finances well, I will never incur any cost for using these cards.
    1% is not much on an individual small purchase, but if one buys everything, including paying bills and whatever else one can without incurring fees, one will get a nice little check every now and then.
    Sure beats paying an annual fee, even if I only get $100 for every ten thousand in annual spending.
    But by using the card, I also can rack my expenses and have recourse if I need to return something or am unhappy with the purchase.
    This is the same with recycling…it may not pay much back, but it reduces costs and any money earned offsets some of my yearly spending. I will never be able to live off of my cash back savings on my ccs and likewise recycling will likely not eliminate the cost of collecting garbage…but it does lower it somewhat…more for some materials, less or not at all for others. And, like the credit cards, there are some less tangible benefits to doing it.
    Some people could not be bothered to get a credit card with a cashback perk built in…but I know of one very rich person who bought a 10 million dollar painting at an auction, and paid with his airline miles card. He then flew wherever he needed to fly for the next several years for free, and his family too. Someone spending that much on a painting likely does not need to worry about the cost of an airline ticket, but he had to pay for the painting somehow, and the CC made it easier and safer as a transaction.
    It is better to save than spend, and better to conserve resources than use them up. Some may be more annoyed that pleased to do so, seeing the effort as more of a headache than the savings is worth…but it is far from logical to forgo efficiency and reduce resource usage.

  45. I have long believed that on balance the powers behind the environmental movement are more interested in “the money” than in “the environment.” Along comes nutty California to make my case. Here we have an individual who for personal financial reasons commits an act that has a side effect of helping the environment. So how do the “powers that be” respond? They criminally prosecute the guy–not because he’s harming the environment (he’s doing the opposite), but because he’s costing the state money. You have to laugh.

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