California busts $14M scheme to bring cans, bottles in from Arizona for recycling

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – California recycling officials say they’ve busted a ring of fraudsters who trucked more than 200 million cans and bottles from Arizona to illegally redeem $14 million in refunds.

A grand jury in Kern County indicted five Californians on charges including grand theft and recycling fraud in an alleged scheme.

Recyclable containers sold in California include a five- or 10-cent charge, depending on their size. The money is refunded when the cans and bottles are recycled. Out-of-state containers can’t be redeemed in California because the cans or bottles were not subject to the initial charge.

According to CalRecycle, about 18 private recycling centres were implicated in the scheme because they accepted the Arizona cans and bottles. The centres are responsible for determining containers’ origins.