In Texas, tray theft has cost more than $25 million in lost equipment and operational disruptions over the past several years. However, the American Bakers Association (A.B.A.) together with the support of Texas Representative Cole Hefner and Senator Bryan Hughes pushed the Tray Loss and Prevention Law, H.B. 4584, that provides law enforcement and prosecutors the tools to assist baking companies in fighting the epidemic.

In June, the Lone Star State’s Governor Greg Abbott signed the legislation into law that provides a major step to battle tray loss by increasing penalties and fines — and even civil penalties and recovery of prosecution costs — while placing requirements on recyclers to collect information from those seeking to recycle more than five covered containers, said Kelly Knowles, vice-president of state and political affairs for the A.B.A.

That information, along with private investigative tools and reports from route drivers, could be used to build a case against suspected thieves.

“Unfortunately, we have seen the problem grow every year as the loss of plastic delivery and storage containers can reach as high as 60% in major metropolitan areas, including Houston and El Paso,” Ms. Knowles explained.

The initiative is a key victory for the A.B.A.’s State Affairs Working Group, which targets issues that potentially affect the baking industry as a whole but can be resolved more quickly, effectively and strategically on a state level.

Ms. Knowles, along with A.B.A. member bakers including Dan Stone, senior vice-president supply chain logistics for Thomasville, Ga.-based Flowers Foods, testified before the Texas legislature. In all, more than a dozen bakers along with their major food service and retail customers throughout the state supported the legislation.

“The theft of these trays is of substantial importance to the baking industry and other food industries,” said A.B.A.’s State Affairs Working Group Chair Craig Pizer of Bimbo Bakeries USA, Horsham, Pa. “The final signature on this legislation provides law enforcement with the seamless legal framework to deter and prosecute this pervasive and serious criminal activity for the health of the Texas economy and the health of the environment.”

Spearheaded by the A.B.A.’s recent strategic initiative, the newly formed State Affairs Working Group will be looking to tackle additional regional issues that can have a meaningful impact on the daily operations of bakers.

In the meantime, the message is out: Don’t mess with Texas when it comes to tray theft.