AB 1583 New California Legislation Targets Pallet Theft

Pallet and container theft in California has been an ongoing problem, as we were reminded of with the most recent pallet theft arrests by the plastic industrial theft task force. New legislation has been introduced in California, presumably with the intent to deter pallet theft in that state.

California state assemblymember Roger Hernández has introduced AB 1583. According to the proposed legislation, “This bill would prohibit junk dealers and recyclers from purchasing or receiving merchandise pallets, as defined, marked with an indicia of ownership, as defined, from anyone except the indicated owner, unless specified information is provided to the junk dealer or recycler, and would require the junk dealer or recycler to maintain a written record of that information.”

To reiterate, if the seller is not the indicated owner, “a junk dealer or recycler may purchase or receive merchandise pallets only if the seller or transferor provides a receipt from the indicated owner verifying the seller’s current ownership or a document indicating that the seller or transferor is authorized by the indicated owner to sell or transfer the merchandise pallets.”

The intent of this legislation is good news for the many companies that have pallets stolen in California. It would, however, cause paperwork headaches for legitimate pallet recyclers who receive loads of used pallets on a daily basis from sources such as consumer products distribution centers, including some pallets with company names stenciled or branded.

Additionally, if the new legislation turned out to be successful in dissuading pallet pickers from recovering owner branded pallets, this could result in more pallets left stacked in alleys and leaning against walls – great for reducing pallet theft but not without other potentially expensive complications. Be careful what you wish for, as they say. With legislation or without, an effective reusables management program remains an essential best practice enhanced, but certainly not replaced by legislation.

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