It’s become such a problem that in Arizona, recycling facilities can no longer pay cash on the barrel for scrap copper and other metals. Recyclers must see the ID of the sellers of the scrap, take down all the information (name, address, phone number, etc.), and mail payment after a background check is completed. While it hasn’t stopped theft, it has slowed it down.
It seems that over the past few years, plastics theft has also become big business for the same reason: it’s a valuable commodity and people are willing to risk jail time to reap the rewards of selling regrind. Part of what’s driving theft is the green effort. More and more companies are trying to prove their ‘green-ness’ by adding recycled materials to their products. This, in turn, is making plastics theft big business.
Stealing and re-selling plastic in its various forms has always been somewhat of a problem. Many years ago, I wrote an article about a Los Angeles area molder that had an employee who was taking bags of virgin resin off the pallets when they came into the warehouse. He would then mark the shipper “short” by “X” number of bags, and either the supplier would replace the bags or the parts run would end up short of material.
The bags he stole from receiving he’d put in the back of his pickup truck and sell to other molders by telling them it was material left over from a run and the company no longer needed it. He was caught by some sharp employees who knew the right amount of material was coming in and that the jobs shouldn’t have been short.
Processors can help stem the tide of this type of theft by asking about the source of the recycled materials. Recycling and using recycled materials is a great idea, but how would your customers feel about your company if they knew you were buying materials that had been “recycled” from stolen “trademark” products from legitimate businesses? Have you checked out your supplier of recycled material? Do you know where he’s getting the raw materials for the regrind? Are you buying from a molder that legitimately sells its own regrind? Or from a legitimate reseller of recycled materials?
If you don’t know the source of your regrind or the recycled materials you use in your production of plastic products, maybe you need to start asking questions. While recycling is important and processors use regrind to help reduce the cost of parts, knowing where the reground or recycled materials are coming from is important. Do you know the source of the recycled/reground materials that you are using?