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6 charged in $10 million recycling fraud scheme that brought 9 tons of cans, bottles to California for CRV redemption

CBSLA.com: The Rundown (May 26 AM Edition)
CBSLA.com: The Rundown (May 26 AM Edition) 01:50

Six people have been charged in a $10 million recycling fraud scheme that involved bringing more than nine tons of cans and bottles from Arizona, in order to recycle them for money in Los Angeles and Ontario.

California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed the charges of recycling fraud and grand theft against six people Wednesday for allegedly bringing more than nine tons of materials from Arizona in order to take advantage of the California Redemption Value program. The scheme is estimated to have defrauded California's CRV program of more than $10 million.

The program from CalRecycle is subsidized by California consumers every time they buy a CRV-eligible bottle or can, and pays up to 10 cents per container when they're brought in for recycling. Only bottles and cans from California are eligible for redemption under this program, the Attorney General's Office said.

"Beverage deposits belong to Californians and the state will continue to actively protect these funds," CalRecycle Director Machi Wagoner said in a statement.

Arizona does not have a similar recycling program that refunds consumers for bottles and cans that are brought in. A state Department of Justice investigation determined the defendants brought truckloads of aluminum cans and plastic bottles from Arizona into California between September of 2021 and March of this year in order to redeem the recycling refund value of those items.

"When individuals skirt California's recycling laws, California consumers are hurt in the process," Bonta said in a statement. "The California Redemption program is an important tool in our efforts to encourage recycling, reduce waste, and address climate change."

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