Listed below are recent posts across all of CalRecyle's blogs.

  • Sorting Out China’s New Ban on Recycled Materials

    Whether you’re a recycling industry insider or a casual consumer of current events, China’s “National Sword” campaign may have you a bit confused. In short, the world’s largest importer of recyclable material says it will no longer accept most recyclable material.

    In California alone, it would mean finding new markets for the 8 million tons of paper and about 1.3 million tons of plastic and other recyclable commodities exported to China each year.

    What’s the back story?

    China has long needed to clean up its environment, perhaps most acutely highlighted by the near-zero visibility of its polluted capital during the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Under growing political pressure at home and abroad, the country has been taking steps toward environmental protection and sustainability. Part of its strategy involved a crackdown on what it called the influx of “foreign garbage” mixed among the scrap materials imported from other countries. Chinese manufacturers rely on this paper, plastic, and other scrap to make products and sell them back to some of those same foreign countries.

    In 2011, China announced new regulations to reduce contamination of solid waste imports. The new rules weren’t very effective, so in 2013 the country began a heightened enforcement crackdown called Operation Green Fence. That campaign involved intensive inspections to ensure bales of imported recyclables were free of excess contamination or other materials. The effort resulted in Chinese ports turning away “hundreds upon thousands of tons”of shipments, according to the business news outlet Quartz.

    In 2017, China issued a new set of regulations on solid waste imports as part of its National Sword campaign. The world’s top waste importer notified the World Trade Organization that it would no longer accept four classes and 24 categories of solid waste by the end of 2017, including waste plastic, paper, and other materials.

    What now?

    U.S. officials, trade groups, and industry leaders have brought their concerns to the Chinese government, requesting more time to avoid a massive disruption in the global recyclable commodities market and potential damage to China’s economy. To date, China has shown no signs of changing course. Reuters has reported on mountains of waste paper piling up in Hong Kong, price hikes for cardboard, and a significant decline in waste shipments into China.

    As states like California continue to monitor the implementation and impact of China’s scrap ban, industry experts are warning states to prepare. Read SWANA’s October 11, 2017, letter to all 50 state environmental agencies regarding the impacts of the Chinese waste ban on state and local recycling programs.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Dec 4, 2017

  • Innovative Solutions for Recycling Bottles and Cans

    California has one of the largest and most effective beverage container recycling programs in the country. In some areas, however, people don’t have convenient options to recycle and collect the California Refund Value for their empty bottles and cans.

    State legislators and CalRecycle staff members have been discussing ways to modernize the beverage container recycling program to adapt to changes in consumer products and behavior, developments in recycling systems, and fluctuations in global commodities markets.  On October 10, Governor Brown signed into law SB 458 (Wiener, Chapter 648, Statutes of 2017), which authorizes up to five limited-term pilot projects to improve redemption opportunities in communities that don’t have nearby recycling centers.

    A Little Background and Context

    Since the California Beverage Container and Litter Reduction Act was passed in 1986, more than 300 billion used beverage containers have been diverted from landfills and collected for recycling. That’s a lot of bottles and cans! Thanks to the program, California has one of the largest recycling systems in the world.

    The law creates incentives for entrepreneurs to open recycling centers in areas convenient for consumers, in particular near grocery stores. But these incentives don’t guarantee a center will open, or stay in business. Where there are no recycling centers, retailers selling beverages may be required to either accept used beverage containers from the public and pay them California Refund Value, or pay a daily $100 fee to CalRecycle.

    Improving Consumer Redemption Opportunities

    SB 458 allows cities or counties in rural areas, or areas that have many grocery stores without nearby recycling centers, to apply for a pilot program. If accepted into the pilot program, they will have increased flexibility in how recycling centers may operate. The expectation is that this will make it easier to  provide redemption opportunities near grocery stores. In addition, when and where the pilot recycling centers are up and running, fewer stores will be required to accept containers from the public or pay the daily fee to CalRecycle. Finally, the pilot programs may offer lessons for future efforts to update the Beverage Container Recycling Program to support sustainability and economic opportunity in California.

    CalRecycle will host a public workshop on SB 458 in Sacramento on December 13 from 10 a.m. to noon, and then will develop the specific program rules. Those rules will detail both how to apply and the increased operation flexibility for recycling centers in pilot areas. The meeting will also be webcast—check the workshop link on December 13 for instructions.

    Posted on In the Loop by Christina Files on Nov 30, 2017

  • Eleven Arrested in Summer Recycling Fraud Stings

     Agents shut down two Reno-to-Sacramento smuggling pipelines

    Media Contact: Lance Klug
    (916) 341-6293


    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Justice has released the findings from two recycling fraud investigations resulting in 11 arrests in the summer of 2016. Each case involved the collection, illegal transport, and fraudulent redemption of out-of-state used beverage containers through the California Redemption Value program.

    “One by one, CalRecycle and its enforcement partners are targeting and dismantling these recycling fraud organizations,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “CalRecycle will not tolerate these smuggling operations to defraud the CRV program of deposits that rightfully belong to California consumers.”


    Wife, Husband, and Family Arrested for Recycling Fraud

    Who: Rocio Zamora, 45, Rio Linda; Santiago Zamora, 53, Rio Linda; Margarita Medrano, 36, Rio Linda; Idelfonso Salas, 36, Rio Linda; Ulises Adame, 28, Rio Linda

    What: Arrested on charges of conspiracy, grand theft, and felony recycling fraud

    When: Aug. 18, 2016 (investigation launched in December 2015)

    On Dec. 15, 2015, agents with CDOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team were conducting an investigation at a recycling center in Reno, Nev., when they observed Rocio and Santiago Zamora loading used beverage containers into a rental truck. Agents followed the truck into California on a route designed to avoid a required stop at the California Department of Food and Agriculture border checkpoint in Truckee.  Agents continued their surveillance to the couple’s residence on 32nd Avenue in Rio Linda and then to a nearby storage facility. The couple was later seen redeeming the plastic and aluminum at recycling centers in Rio Linda and Sacramento.

    Subsequent surveillance operations revealed similar activity and additional storage lockers in Yuba City and Rio Linda. Agents also observed frequent redemptions at nearby recycling centers in the area. The investigation led to the identification of three additional family members, believed to be conspiring to defraud the California Redemption Value program by illegally importing and redeeming out-of-state used beverage containers.

    On Aug. 18, 2016, CDOJ agents served search warrants at the Zamoras’ residence and Yuba City Self Storage on Steward Road. Agents arrested five suspects and seized an assault rifle, two handguns, and a semi-automatic .22-caliber rifle. The Zamoras’ storage locker was found to contain 1,520 pounds of aluminum and 840 pounds of plastic used beverage containers with a potential California Redemption Value of $3,386.


    Tip Brings Down Recycling Fraud Scheme

    Who: Marco Rodriguez-Montano, 38, Carson City, Nev.; Jose Martinez-Lozano, 49, Fernley, Nev.; Francisco Limon, 61, Reno, Nev.; Juan Valdez, 40, Reno, Nev.; Herlindo Samayoa, 46, Sacramento; Erendida Ramirez, 58, Sacramento.

    What: Arrested on charges of Conspiracy, Grand Theft and Felony Recycling Fraud

    When: June 1 and 2, 2016 (Investigation launched in May 2015) 

    On May 29, 2015, agents with CDOJ’s Recycling Fraud Team launched an investigation after receiving a tip regarding used beverage containers from Nevada recycling centers being transported into California without legally required documentation. Information led agents to facilities in Reno and Fernley, Nev., where they identified Marco Rodriguez-Montano as a primary suspect. Herlindo Samayoa and four other people were identified as co-conspirators in a scheme to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund.

     During the course of the investigation, agents observed multiple loads of used beverage containers being loaded into rented moving trucks in Reno, Nev. The suspects took the material across state lines using routes designed to avoid required stops at the CDFA border checkpoint in Truckee. The used beverage containers were taken to a storage facility on Weyand Drive in Sacramento before winding up at a nearby recycling center.

     On June 1, 2016, CDOJ agents served search warrants at two locations in Sacramento —8585 Weyand Drive and 4226 Barbara St.—and one in Carson City, Nev., at 3250 Banjo Circle. Juan Valdez, Francisco Limon, and Herlindo Samayoa were arrested at the Weyand location, while Marco Rodriguez-Montano was arrested in Carson City. Agents seized 3,580 pounds of aluminum and 2,340 pounds of plastic used beverage containers from the truck and the Weyand storage facility. The material had a potential California Redemption Value of $8,452.

    The following day, agents served a search warrant at the Tepeyac Market on West Main Street in Fernley, Nev., and arrested Jose Martinez-Lozano. A sixth suspect, Erendida Ramirez, was arrested on Sept. 19, 2016.


    California’s Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act incentivizes recycling through a California Redemption Value (CRV) fee paid by California consumers at the time of purchase and refunded upon return of the empty beverage containers to CalRecycle-certified recycling centers. Because the fee is not paid on beverages purchased outside the state, those containers are not eligible for CRV redemption.

     The California Department of Justice investigates and prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of CalRecycle, which has administrative authority over the state’s beverage container recycling program. In addition to CalRecycle’s interagency agreements with CDOJ and CDFA, CalRecycle aggressively combats fraud and illicit payments through enhanced precertification training of recycling center owners; probationary reviews of recycling centers; oversight of certified processors; monitoring and tracking of imported materials; risk assessment of daily claims for reimbursement; daily load limits; application of prepayment controls; and post-payment reviews and investigations.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on Oct 13, 2016