In California, bottle recycling is mandatory, except when it’s illegal

California requires people to recycle their empty bottles.

However, this recent news article from the Merced Sun-Star says that three people have been charged with “recycling fraud” in California, because the bottles they recycled were “smuggled” into California from Arizona. The bottles from both states are physically identical to each other, but the price paid for the bottles is higher in California than in Arizona.

In the private sector, this kind of behavior is completely legal, and it’s called “arbitrage.” This is what wikipedia says about it:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arbitrage

Arbitrage

In economics and finance, arbitrage is the practice of taking advantage of a price difference between two or more markets: striking a combination of matching deals that capitalize upon the imbalance, the profit being the difference between the market prices.

This video shows an example of legal arbitrage. In the video, a guy goes to a bunch of Wal-Marts, buys up every copy of Monopoly for Millennials for $19.82 each, and sells them online for three times that price:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FknkqT5tHK8

What that guy in the video did is 100% legal.

But for some strange reason, the people who sold bottles from Arizona in California were breaking the law.

Even though the bottles that they sold were real bottles, they were charged with “fraud.”

And even though the bottles from Arizona were physically identical to the bottles from California, they were charged with “smuggling.”

It’s completely ridiculous that this is illegal.

The people who bought Monopoly for Millennials from that guy in the video don’t care where it came from. As long they get what they paid for, they are happy.

But for some weird reason, politicians seem to think that there is some inherent difference between bottles from California and bottles from Arizona.

In the real world, the only difference is the price. There is no physical difference between the bottles.

If recycling bottles was truly a good idea, then California would be happy to recycle bottles from Arizona, just like the customers who bought Monopoly for Millennials from that guy in the video were happy to buy what they bought. If the item in question is truly valuable, then the buyer won’t care where it came from.

Therefore, for California to mandate bottle recycling in some cases, while outlawing it in other cases –  even though the bottles involved in both cases are physically identical to each other – is absurd.

Here’s a clip from “The Bottle Deposit” from season 7 of Seinfeld, where Kramer and Newman try to make money by recycling bottles from New York in Michigan:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGJZcHgqX1g

December 5, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Economics, Environmentalism. 1 comment.