Scrap metal recycling: a money-making byproduct of river clean-up

Recycling scrap metal isn’t just an activity for greenies anymore… with prices for these commodities on the rise, collecting aluminum cans or metal construction debris has gotten profitable. I know I even regularly see stories on the local news about copper thieves…

One source of scrap metal that didn’t strike me until reading a story on American Recycler, though, is waterways. Turns out that dumping your broken refrigerator, or your clunker car, in a stream or river was relatively common just a few decades ago. While laws have curtailed the practice, there’s apparently still a lot of junk metal in our waterways… and non-profits dedicated to cleaning them up have discovered a new revenue stream.

AR profiles efforts by national organization American Rivers, as well as local groups such as Texas’ Medina River Protection Fund, and Illinois’ Living Lands and Waters. In each case, these organizations were able to take the detritus the discovered in waterways — much of it decades old — and sell it to recyclers in order to partially fund their clean-up efforts.

So, cleaning up ecosystems pays? At least in these cases (won’t throw another overview of environmental economics at you here). Know of other organizations that are generating revenues in similar manner? Let us know about them…


Image credit: jhpope at Flickr under a Creative Commons license