News Release

Office of Public Affairs

For Immediate Release: June 1, 2015
Release #2015-12
For more information contact:
Media Contact: Lance Klug (CalRecycle)

SACRAMENTO--For the second time in as many months, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) is announcing the arrest of a semi-truck driver on recycling fraud charges. Similar to the prior incident, this case involves importing out-of-state empty beverage containers for the purpose of defrauding the California Redemption Value (CRV) fund.

“When criminals try to cash in on out-of-state empty beverage containers, they essentially try to steal from every Californian who pays the CRV fee at the cash register,” CalRecycle Director Caroll Mortensen said. “We’ll continue to do everything it takes to stop fraud and prevent criminals from making illicit gains from our beverage container recycling program.”

CalRecycle works closely with its enforcement partners at the California Department of Justice and the Department of Food and Agriculture to enforce CRV fraud-prevention efforts.

On May 12, members of DOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team were conducting surveillance at a recycling center in Phoenix, Ariz., when they observed a “B&S Transport” semi-truck out of Baldwin Park, Calif., being loaded with bags of empty beverage containers. The semi left the Phoenix recycling center in the afternoon and arrived at the Blythe border agricultural checkpoint in Riverside County that evening. There, according to the arrest report, the driver told the checkpoint inspector that his truck was empty. However, upon inspection, the trailer was found to contain the used beverage containers that were observed being loaded in Phoenix – a total of 8,548 pounds of aluminum and 1,522 pounds of plastic with a potential value of more than $15,000 in illegal CRV refunds.

After being interviewed by RFT agents, driver Ricardo Rodriguez of Colton, in San Bernardino County, was arrested on recycling fraud and attempted grand theft charges. His arraignment is set for July 14 at the Riverside County Courthouse in Indio.

California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes recycling through a CRV fee paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty containers. Since the fee is not paid by out-of-state consumers, out-of-state containers are not eligible for CRV redemption. CalRecycle aggressively combats fraud through enhanced training of recycling center owners, increased scrutiny of payment claims, daily load limits, and increased enforcement and inspection efforts with cooperation from California’s DOJ and CDFA’s agricultural checkpoints.

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CalRecycle provides oversight of California solid waste handling and recycling programs to protect human health, develop sustainable solutions that conserve resources, and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.