Sunday, 19 May 2024

Be on the lookout for recycling thefts

LAKECOUNTY – It may be OK to rescue California Redemption Value (CRV) beverage containers from a public garbage can but it is definitely not OK to remove any recyclable material from a recycling container or drop off location, says one county official.

Jackie Armstrong of Lake County Public Services said theft of recyclables can be classified as misdemeanor or infraction, but if the recycling agent elects to pursue civil action, the court may award damages three times the value of the stolen recyclables up to $2,000 for a first offense and $5,000 for a second offense.

Most people agree that local scavengers are performing a service when they remove recyclable materials from garbage cans, said Armstrong – after all, no one wants to see recyclable materials taking up space in the landfill.

But she said it's another matter entirely to remove recyclable materials, including CRV containers, from recycling containers, including residential curbside totes, or a drop off recycling location.

According to California Public Resources Code Section 41950, once recyclable materials have been segregated from solid waste materials and placed in recycling containers or at a designated recycling collection location, the recyclable materials become the property of the authorized recycling agent (i.e. garbage company), Armstrong explained.

Recyclables theft doesn't constitute a serious problem in Lake County as a whole, although Armstrong said they've encountered trouble spots in some areas.

It's a serious enough problem in some parts of the state that legislation has been introduced to crack down on it. Assemblywoman Fiona Ma (D-San Francisco) authored AB 1778, meant to stop professional poaching rings operating in neighborhoods with curbside recycling services.

Armstrong said recycling poachers also increase the risk of identify theft, so if you see someone digging through recycling carts in your neighborhood, please let the poacher know that the activity is prohibited by law and call your garbage company to report the incident.

For more information about this or other waste management issues, call the county Public Services Department at 263-1980.


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