Once again, life imitates “Seinfeld,” as California mulls a bill seeking to thwart container deposit scams.
If you’ve ever stared at the tiered redemption amounts on a beverage bottle or can for more than half a second, the idea has no doubt occurred to you: Buy a beverage in a state with a lower deposit or no deposit and redeem it in a state with a higher deposit. Which sounds great until you realize that 1) you’d have to be trafficking in a pretty sizable number of containers to make it worthwhile and 2) that by the time you figure in the cost of gas/transport and other expenses, your supposed profit dwindles to almost nothing. It’s also illegal, but never mind.
This scheme was at the center of a well-loved “Seinfeld” story arc, in which Newman, Kramer and Jerry attempt to shepherd a mail truck (allowing them to bypass tolls and have their fuel subsidized by Uncle Sam) full of bottles from New York to Michigan to capitalize on the deposit disparity. Their plan goes awry, of course, and if California Assemblyman Richard Gordon (D – Menlo Park) has his way, attempts to cash in in California will be similarly thwarted. A bill introduced by Gordon would require anyone who imports bulk amounts of recyclable containers into California to report where they came from.
In a Bloomberg interview, Gordon fully cops to the “Seinfeld” reference and says he would name the bill “the Newman-Kramer Deterrence Act of 2012” if he could. Presumably suspects caught under the law will be told, “No refund for you!!!”