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Do you know the source of your regrind?

Recycling has become such big business that it’s only reasonable that the less than scrupulous would get in on the act. Recycled everything is worth a lot of money: copper is a big seller—so big that thieves climb onto the roofs of commercial buildings to rip out all the copper in air conditioning units, doing thousands of dollars in damage. Metals of all types command big bucks at recycling facilities.

Clare Goldsberry

July 3, 2012

2 Min Read
Do you know the source of your regrind?

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?

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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