PORTLAND, ME - Recalling a Seinfeld
episode where Kramer and Newman take thousands of cans and bottles to Michigan to earn a nickel more per container than they would in New York, a couple that runs a Maine bottle redemption center and a Massachusetts man have been arrested and charged with illegally cashing in more than 100,000 out-of-state bottles and cans in Maine for deposits, the Associated Press reports.
Thomas and Megan Woodard, who operate Green Bee Redemption in Kittery, Maine, allegedly passed off more than 100,000 out-of-state containers for more than $10,000, as if they had been purchased in Maine.
An estimated 90 million cans and bottles are fraudulently cashed in each year in Maine, which costs beverage distributors up to $10 million, according to Newell Augur, executive director of the Maine Beverage Association. People from New Hampshire, which has no bottle deposit law, routinely redeem cans and bottles in Maine, receiving a 5-cent refund on most beverage containers and 15 cents for wine and liquor bottles. The centers recoup that money from distributors, plus a 3.5-4-cent handling fee per container.
Officials estimate that up to one billion beverage containers are sold in Maine each year. However, containers sold in other states also carry the Maine deposit stamp because it is cost prohibitive to customize the label for each state.