Saturday, March 31, 2012

Recycling - Trash to Treasure

Recycling is a pretty large industry.  How large?  According to Lewis Clark Recyclers, Inc. the industry employs 1.1 million people and generates $236 billion in revenue.  If I could only capture 0.1% of the marketplace I'd be a very wealthy person.

What's the deal with recycling?  I think we do a pretty poor job in America when it comes to recycling.  Why?  Lack of good information, laziness, and lack of creativity.  Most businesses needs a good system of how to operate efficiently, and look for economies of scale.  Many large businesses I feel have too much overhead to operate very well.  Most people would never dream of becoming a trash man and therefore the system has failed.

The thought of having separate trashcans for different types of materials?  Some people have a hard enough time putting stuff they do not want in the trash can let alone putting it in the correct one.  Really you need to have the following separated:

  • Metals
  • Plastics
  • Cardboard
  • Glass
  • Food
  • Everything Else
Personally, I would take it a step further.  I want my metals to be separated between Ferrous and Non-Ferrous metals.  Why?  Because you can make more money doing this.  Metals that are non-ferrous like copper, brass, and aluminum yield decent money per pound wen recycling.

A computer that I stumbled across that is a small town operation is EcoStraps.  When I first read about the company in a business magazine I was amazed with the business model.  Here is a couple of kids (23 years old) who have a company that generates 1 million in revenues and was profitable in the first year.  This is amazing results and shows big money can be made locally small scale.  Frankly, I'm surprised that more cities haven't started such companies up.

What can you do to make some cash with trash?  Well, it depends on where you live.  When we lived in New York you could take your uncrushed aluminum cans and go to place on base that you could feed into these vending machines.  The machines would scan the cans and crush them.  Then we would take the receipts to the Class 6 and get paid.  You would get $0.05 per can. 

In Ohio we do not have a system to get paid like that.  What you have to do is take it to the nearest scrap yard.  If you google search for scrap yards you can find one nearest to you.  They want you to split up all your metals.  Otherwise they pay you less.  For example...if you have a car radiator you need to cut off the sides with a ripsaw.  The sides have steel on them and if you do not do this you'll get significantly less money.

I have the repuation at my work place as someone who will recycle scrap metal.  So, I have received many items to be scrapped from co-workers and neighbors.  My 8 year old daughter helps me out finding cans anytime we go on a walk.  It cleans up the neighborhood, and we get some cash along the way.

We even made a song about it.  Ashley sings, "I have a business, to pay for my toys.  Collecting cans from the neighbors, forget those boys.  I work hard, to make some cash. (Saluting)  Thank you sir for all your trash."

If you don't have kids, let me tell you...they are great.  I never truly understood love until I had my first kid. 

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