Recycling fraud convicts ordered to pay California $140 million for bottle and can smuggling scheme

New restitution decision against Recycling Services Alliance

Office of Public Affairs
For Immediate Release: February 20, 2024
News Release #2024-02
Media Contact: Lance Klug
916-341-6293 |

SACRAMENTO – Recycling Services Alliance, Inc. (RSA) and its operations manager have been ordered to pay $140.5 million in total restitution and penalties for defrauding California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program. The final agency decision by CalRecycle requires RSA to pay $86.6 million in restitution and interest for illegally filing claims for California Refund Value (CRV) on bottles and cans with thousands of fabricated weight tickets. The decision is in addition to prior criminal judgments of $53.9 million against RSA and its operations manager. 

“This decision sends a message that criminals are held accountable for defrauding California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program, which has kept 491 billion bottles and cans out of our streets and waterways,” CalRecycle Director Rachel Machi Wagoner said. “CalRecycle and its enforcement partners aggressively investigate recycling fraud, pursuing the maximum penalties to protect Californians’ money.”  

Case Background 

CalRecycle notified California Department of Justice (CDOJ) in May 2015 that the Sacramento RSA facility may illegally be redeeming out-of-state beverage containers.  

  • As CDOJ pursued its criminal inquiry, CalRecycle completed an RSA claims analysis, suspending the recycler’s certification to do business.  
  • CalRecycle investigators worked with CDOJ, CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards, and the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s Weights and Measures Division to explore how RSA fabricated weight tickets for CRV claims.   
  • After a Grand Jury indictment, RSA and its operations manager were convicted of recycling fraud and ordered to pay $53.9 million in damages. 

At a Glance: California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program 

Californians have recycled more than 491 billion bottles and cans since the program started in 1986. It incentivizes Californians to recycle by refunding a fee paid at purchase when beverage containers return to recycling centers or certain retailers. 

CalRecycle safeguards California’s Beverage Container Recycling Program through Interagency agreements with the CDOJ and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to fight recycling fraud with 377 arrests since 2010 

Report suspected recycling fraud or bottle redemption violations to CalRecycle by calling 1-866-CANLOAD (866-226-5623) or via email at

CalRecycle’s mission is to protect California’s environment and climate for the health and prosperity of future generations through the reduction, reuse and recycling of California resources, environmental education, disaster recovery and the transition from a disposable to a fully circular economy.

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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.