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Small claims for non-compliance with California recycling law?

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by Carlosbcg, Dec 20, 2018.

  1. Carlosbcg

    Carlosbcg Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I am looking for advice on whether I can and should file a small claims case against a large store chain who refuses to abide by the law.

    First a bit of background. All stores whose sales amount to $2,000,000 or more that are located in an unserved convenience zone MUST either accept recyclables back for redemption (during ALL open hours) or pay $100 a day to be exempt.

    A convenience zone is usually within a half mile. An unserved convenience zone is one which has no certified recycling center within it.

    That's the law.

    Most stores are not in compliance with the law setting arbitrary limits on the number of recyclables that can be redeemed (no such limits are allowed under the law), limiting the days and hours during which recyclables can be brought in, not posting visible signs on every entrance that consumers can recycle there, etc.

    Stores do NOT want to allow recycling on site. They do not want a bunch of homeless coming in with their recyclables, they have no room, short on employees, very busy, etc. All of which is irrelevant under the law.

    I am sick and tired of dealing with managers who are ignorant and/or unwilling to apply the law.

    CalRecycle takes the law seriously and has fined businesses for non-compliance. One such fine that I know of from a store manager was $35,000!

    Back to my question.

    Me and my wife recycle to get gas money and a little spending money.

    We must go around town trying to get our $15-20 per day within the illegal restrictions placed on us by stores who do not apply the law to allow convenient recycling. In other words we cannot get our $15-20 from one store as would be the case if the law was applied but must rather go to 3 stores and then within the hours they say (which is convenient for them but not for us).

    Are we damaged financially? Yes and no. We rarely make our $15-20 anymore as it such a hassle to redeem recyclables in-store. But no...we can get our $15-20 if we absolutely must by visiting enough stores, talking to enough managers, threatening CalRecycle fines, and so on.

    Why don't we go to a certified recycle center? Too far away. FOUR have closed down in our area in recent months so we have resorted to using stores.

    I was thinking of a $5,000 small claims against stores in non-compliance to compensate us for the present hassles of dealing with non-compliant stores or $10,000 to get their attention (vs a CalRecycle fine of $35,000 which seems excessive to me).

    But small claims is not for getting someones attention is it?

    Any input on the viability of small claims for this would be appreciated.

  2. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    For what it's worth, I'm not willing to accept this as true because I doubt very much that you have any reliable evidence to support it.

    It sure isn't. Nor is it appropriate to sue for some random amount that you simply pulled out of thin air.

    Enforcement of the California Beverage Container Recycling and Litter Reduction Act is governed by Chapter 8 of Division 12.1 of the California Public Resources Code. Based on my quick skimming of the Chapter, I saw nothing that would lead me to conclude that compliance may be enforced by a private right of action. Rather, violations should be reported to the Division of Recycling in the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery.
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Small claims is inappropriate. You have no damages.

    If anything, the appropriate thing to do is to make a complaint to the appropriate authority.

    You have nothing to gain in small claims.
  4. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    Your doing so many hours a week collecting these items. With little to NO reward. Get a part time job instead. It's up to the city to enforce these laws not the private citizen. File a complaint with the city against these stores..

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