California Bill to Fight Newspaper Theft Passes Senate

Legislation to Tackle Curbside Recycling and Newspaper Theft Clears Senate Floor with Bare Margin, Bipartisan Backing

For Immediate Release
August 22, 2008

Bill Barnes
(916) 319-2012

Sacramento — Today, the California State Senate passed a bill that cracks down on recycling raiders who steal newspapers from news stands and CRV containers from curbside recycling bins. The legislation, AB 1778, provides law enforcement with needed tools to deter theft by placing modest requirements on recyclers who currently engage in large, cash transactions for aluminum cans, plastic and glass bottles, and newspaper. The bill passed by a 21-16 vote with 17 Democrats and 4 Republicans in support. Eleven Republicans and five Democrats opposed the bill. Three Democrats did not vote.

“These recycling raiders must be brought out from the shadows,” said Assemblywoman Ma. “Assembly Bill 1778 restores order to neighborhoods that are trashed in the middle of the night. With the price of recycled materials on the rise, recycling theft has become a lucrative business. I am hopeful that this bill, which is so important to improving recycling programs, will be signed by the Governor.”

Across California, thieves rummage for bottles and cans in recycling bins late at night. These organized fleets wake residents, throw unwanted materials on the ground, and trespass on private property. Their theft increases garbage rates and the risk of identity theft. The thieves also target newspapers by following delivery trucks that drop off bundles at newsstands. They then use large trucks to carry the bundles they pick up and then turn them into a recycler for cash without any requirement to show identification.

AB 1778 requires recyclers to pay by check and obtain identifying information of individuals who bring in more than $100 worth of CRV recyclables and more than $50 worth of newspapers. 2,200 aluminum cans have a cash value of $100; 840 pounds of newspaper has a value of $50.

AB 1778 was vigorously opposed by certain recycling companies that fought recordkeeping requirements. Representatives from San Francisco recycler Norcal Waste and the California Newspaper Publishers Association joined Assemblywoman Ma in committee hearings to support the bill. If signed by the Governor, the law will go into effect on January 1, 2009.

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