The Public Eye

Reports from the Bee's investigative team

October 8, 2010
State pays recycling firm 8 percent of its claim

SIMS Recycling Solutions has settled a dispute with the state of California over public funds it had sought for recycling electronic wastes.

According to an agreement reached quietly in August, SIMS will receive 8 percent, or $265,000, of $3.3 million it claimed for recycling 8.3 million pounds of monitors and televisions under California's pioneering 2005 e-waste legislation.

In order to qualify for payment, recyclers must prove e-waste is from California by documenting where it was collected. But 79 percent of the collection addresses SIMS provided to the state were invalid, records show.

Jeff Hunts, manager of the e-waste payment program for CalRecycle, called the agreement a "profound win" for the state.

"It is a recognition of the importance of source documentation to demonstrate the eligibility of the material," Hunts said.

In appeal documents, SIMS maintained the e-waste was, in fact, from California and blamed the problem, in part, on sloppy and fabricated documentation from e-waste suppliers.

"It is now clear ... that there is a likelihood that (e-waste) handlers may, in some cases, have provided deliberate false data," SIMS manager Andrew Mason wrote in a June letter to the state.

SIMS Recycling Solutions, which calls itself the world's largest electronics recovery and recycling company, has facilities in northern and southern California. Its state headquarters is in Roseville.

--Tom Knudson

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Welcome to The Bee's newest blog: Public Eye. In the coming months, you will see us breaking news here as well as following up on investigations we have published with tidbits, news breaks and behind-the-scenes descriptions of our news-gathering process. Know of a wrong we could right? Send our fraud squad your tips at: fraudsquad@sacbee.com.

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