With pallet and container theft amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars annually, companies have lobbied state governments to take action. Pallet and container theft legislation is in effect in several U.S. states to help enforcement agencies more effectively address this problem. While some state legislation dates back more than 50 years, other legislation is still emerging as lawmakers look for solutions to this issue.
Such laws typically make the theft of pallets or containers illegal, and may also include the unlawful possession of proprietary containers. Legislation increasingly requires the purchasers of used pallets and containers to record and retain buyer information, such as driver’s permit and vehicle license plate numbers. The seller may also be required to show proof of ownership before selling.
In recent years, related legislation has been introduced in Arizona (HB 2168), Maryland, and California (AB 2269). The Arizona legislation, for example, requires recyclers to maintain records for inspection by police. Violations of the requirements are classified as a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $30,000 for each violation. HB 2168 requires companies buying more than 10 wood or plastic bulk containers or pallets to record the name, addresses and telephone number of the seller.
Perceptions about the effectiveness of such legislation have been mixed. Due to the various components of maintaining an effective asset management program, legislation alone cannot be expected to unilaterally eliminate pallet and container theft in the absence of other components of effective asset management. Variables such as industry support and education, adequate policing, asset safeguarding, inventory control, executive support, program leadership, and staff training all can play a role in creating a successful program.
Information about several state laws can be found at the Harrington Group website.