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

  • New California Climate Investment Serves Up Benefits for Butte County

    There is an unmistakable buzz on the streets of Butte County. The Northern California agricultural region, already well known for its orchards and farms, its tight-knit communities, and its commitment to sustainability just added a new attraction to its community profile.

    Welcome to California’s newest hub in the state’s battle against climate change.

    “You can see the enthusiasm around town. People are stunned and excited about this opportunity,” Laura Cootsona says before sharing her own reaction to news of a half-million dollar California Climate Investment. “I actually jumped up and down for days.”

    Cootsona is a Butte County resident and executive director of the Jesus Center in downtown Chico. For more than 30 years, the humanitarian nonprofit has offered meals, resources and other services to those struggling in and around Butte County. Now, with the help of a $499,789 California Climate Investment, the center is launching one of its boldest efforts yet to combat hunger—and climate change—by rescuing food for the hungry before it becomes waste.

    Californians throw away an estimated 6 million tons of food each year. When it decomposes in landfills, food and other organic material emits methane, a super pollutant responsible for roughly 20 percent of current global warming and 86 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2).

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    The Jesus Center operates a farm in Butte County and plans to begin a second farm soon to help provide fresh produce to neighbors in need.

    In partnership with the Community Action Agency of Butte County, which includes the North State Food Bank, the Jesus Center will use the nearly half-million dollar Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant to increase its ability to collect, transport, store, and distribute more food in and around Butte County.

    “What I love about this project is it allows us to do a ton of social good and environmental good at the same time,” Cootsona says. “This is going to change our community in a lot of serious ways.”

    CalRecycle’s Food Waste Prevention and Rescue grant program is part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars to work reducing greenhouse gas emissions, strengthening the economy and improving public health and the environment—particularly in disadvantaged communities.

    “The physical body gets so broken down when you’re confronting the daily realities of poverty,” Cootsona says, noting food insecurity impacts roughly 1 in every 5 Butte County residents. Statewide, about 1 in 8 Californians are considered food-insecure. She adds, “Hunger should not be this prevalent in a state and in a region that produces so much of our nation’s food.”

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    The fruits and vegetables grown at the Jesus Center farm are used in meals at the Center’s kitchen in Chico. The farm also provides vocational opportunities related to food waste prevention and rescue work.

    In 2017, the Jesus Center prepared and plated more than 101,000 meals through its kitchen, shelter, and six transitional houses in and around Chico. Cootsona expects that number to keep rising as grant funding enables the Center to hire new staff, purchase new equipment—including a refrigerated truck and a new commercial kitchen—and upgrade its logistics software to better track food inventory and coordinate donations and deliveries.

    “With this new software, farmers, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other community partners can go online and notify us about new donations,” Cootsona says. “Depending on the food type, we’ll be able to immediately determine whether it should come to our kitchen in Chico or whether it can be better utilized by one of our 50 partner agencies within the North State Food Bank or in the Wildcat Food Pantry at Chico State.”

    Food that can’t be diverted to meals or distributed through the food banks will be composted at the Jesus Center farm or other partnering locations to make sure the organic material doesn’t wind up emitting greenhouse gases at area landfills.

    “Let’s get food that is designed to be consumed, eaten. Not into landfills.” Cootsona continues, “Composting is a great alternative to landfills, but we want the food in bellies first.”

    The center’s new project also includes money dedicated to vocational training in food waste prevention and recovery, further increasing the long-term benefits that will remain long after the grant funds run out.

    “We’re integrating this new technology and these new systems into our regular operations so these benefits will remain sustainable long-term,” Cootsona says, ensuring the Center can build on its decades-long history of preventing food waste, protecting the planet, and saving lives for decades to come.

    Posted on In the Loop by Lance Klug on May 21, 2018

  • 8 Truck Drivers Busted in Bottle and Can Smuggling Sting

    Out-of-State Container Crackdown Prevents $87,000 in CRV Fraud 

    Media Contact: Lance Klug
    (916) 341-6293 | Lance.Klug@calrecycle.ca.gov 

    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery today announced the arrest of eight truck drivers on charges of felony recycling fraud, conspiracy, and attempted grand theft. Agents with the California Department of Justice’s Recycle Fraud Team made the arrests during a three-day sting operation near the Arizona border with San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

    The suspects are accused of smuggling nearly 59,000 pounds of empty beverage containers from Arizona into California in an attempt to defraud the California Redemption Value Fund of more than $87,000. Since consumers outside California do not pay CRV fees on beverage purchases, out-of-state containers are not eligible for CRV redemptions.

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    CalRecycle photos of evidence gathered at a Blythe, Calif. checkpoint during CDOJ’s three-day recycling fraud interdiction operation in January 2018. 

    “Importing out-of-state empty beverage containers for CRV redemption is a crime,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “To prevent this type of fraud, drivers transporting empty bottles and cans into California are required to pass through one of CDFA’s 16 border inspection stations—and CalRecycle is working alongside our law enforcement partners to make sure that happens.”

    In coordination with CalRecycle and the California Department of Food and Agriculture, California DOJ agents conducted the targeted operation from January 23 through January 25, 2018, at CDFA border protection stations in Vidal and Blythe, Calif.

    Under California law, drivers transporting out-of-state empty beverage containers are required to declare the material by submitting an Imported Materials Report at one of 16 CDFA border inspection stations across the state. It is a violation of the law if vehicle operators:

    • Fail to stop at a CDFA border inspection station
    • Willfully avoid a CDFA border inspection station
    • Refuse to allow inspection of loads containing empty beverage containers
    • Knowingly submit false information

    As a result of the California DOJ operations, the following drivers were arrested and booked at the Riverside County Jail: Tim Bristol, 55, of Tucson, Ariz.; Miguel Dominguez-Lopez, 40, of Los Angeles, Calif.; Henry Juarez, 53, of Oxnard, Calif.; Oscar Lopez, 62, of Mesa, Ariz.; Jose Mineros, 45, of Rialto, Calif.; Tony Perez, 21, of Phoenix, Ariz.; Eduardo Pineda Salcedo, 27, of Perris, Calif.; and Eduardo Siordia, 46, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

    Material Seized, Amount, and Potential CRV Value:

    • Aluminum Used Beverage Containers: 38,890 lbs., $62,224.00
    • Plastic Used Beverage Containers, 20,007  lbs., $24,808.68
    • Total: 58,897 lbs., $87,032.68

    In addition to financial consequences, convictions for recycling fraud and related crimes can carry sentences ranging from six months to three years behind bars. 

    CalRecycle’s Beverage Container Recycling Program Fraud Prevention Measures

    In addition to CalRecycle’s interagency agreements with CA DOJ and CDFA, CalRecycle aggressively combats fraud and illicit payments in the Beverage Container Recycling Program through enhanced precertification training of recycling center owners; probationary reviews of recycling centers; oversight of certified processors; monitoring and tracking of imported materials; risk assessments 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 Apr 30, 2018

  • Five Arrested in $80.3 Million Recycling Fraud Conspiracy

    Processor Accused of Adjusting Weight Tickets to Defraud CRV Fund

    Media Contact: Lance Klug
    (916) 341-6293 | Lance.Klug@calrecycle.ca.gov

    SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery is announcing Grand Jury indictments and subsequent arrests of five people charged with operating a multi-year recycling fraud scheme from the Recycling Services Alliance (RSA) Corporation in Sacramento County. The owner of RSA and four employees are accused of fraudulently processing out-of-state empty beverage containers for California Redemption Value refunds and conspiring to manufacture fraudulent weight tickets to justify state payments and reimbursement claims.

    “CalRecycle took decisive action to suspend RSA from the Beverage Container Recycling Program in 2016 as our internal audit and the California Department of Justice’s criminal investigation progressed,” CalRecycle Director Scott Smithline said. “Recycling fraud is a serious crime and CalRecycle will continue to work alongside our law enforcement partners to disrupt these schemes and protect public funds.”  

    Investigation Background

    On May 15, 2015, the California Department of Justice’s Recycling Fraud Team launched an investigation into RSA after receiving information the Sacramento facility was illegally receiving out-of-state material from various recycling centers and conspiring to defraud the Beverage Container Recycling Fund. As CDOJ pursued its criminal inquiry, CalRecycle staff worked alongside the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s Division of Measurement Standards and the Sacramento County Agricultural Commissioner’s Weights and Measures Division to investigate the CRV reimbursement claims submitted by RSA and the weight tickets used to support those claims.

    On May 11, 2016, while CDOJ Recycling Fraud Team agents continued the criminal investigation, CalRecycle’s legal staff initiated the informal hearing process to suspend RSA’s participation in the CRV program.  On May 13, 2016, CalRecycle issued a Notice of Suspension to RSA.

    As a result of the investigation, which included search warrants and employee interviews, CDOJ agents and CalRecycle staff uncovered an organized effort to generate inaccurate, altered, or falsified weight tickets to increase CRV reimbursement claims from the fund. CalRecycle concluded that RSA’s CRV claims submitted from January 2012 to December 2015, which totaled $80,331,217.19, were based on fraudulent weight tickets.

    Criminal Indictments

    Grand Jury proceedings from Dec. 4 through Dec. 7, 2017, resulted in the criminal indictments of five suspects on a total of 166 counts, including grand theft, recycling fraud, perjury, and conspiracy. RSA owner Shengchien Tseng, 49, of Cupertino; weighmaster Maximina Perez, 50, of San Leandro; assistant weighmaster Alejandra Lazaro Martinez, 26, of Hayward; assistant weighmaster Veronica Castillo, 35, of Sacramento; and assistant weighmaster Marlene Davalos-Mendez, 28, of Rocklin, were arrested and booked into the Sacramento County Jail.

    The next hearing is scheduled for June 5, 2018, in Sacramento County. The California Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting these cases.        

    At a Glance: CalRecycle’s Recycling Fraud Prevention Measures

    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.

    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 Apr 26, 2018