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.
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.