Metal Scrappers are all over South Minneapolis. And I really don’t understand how it’s worth the effort. They must know something I don’t. After my recent bathroom remodel, I ended up with some scrap metal – a steel bathtub, some copper pipe, some iron vent pipes, and several other scraps of various metals. My first thought was, “How the heck am I going to get rid of this?” We were already having a hard time getting rid of the rest of our construction garbage. The last thing I wanted to do was make another trip to the transfer station to drop it of.
So I drug all the scrap metal out into the alley knowing that one of the scrappers would take it off my hands. Then I thought, “Wait, maybe I should figure out how much this is worth – maybe it IS worth it to drive it somewhere and sell it.” So I drug everything back into the garage and made some phone calls. I was quoted a price of $40/ton for steel from Scrappy’s Recycling Express – and told that they wouldn’t even touch it if I didn’t have at least 500 lbs. When I learned that I would earn the large sum of $3 for my steel tub at Scrappy’s, I promptly drug the pile of metal back out into the alley to let someone else deal with it.
Sure enough, that tub didn’t last more than an hour before it disappeared into the back of a pickup truck.
The scrappers are both convenient and frustrating at the same time. It’s a convenient way for me to get rid of metal I don’t want – and I’d rather see my waste metal recycled than end up in a landfill. But there are a few annoying things about it, too. Mostly, they don’t only take things you’ve placed out for them – they savagely rummage through stuff on your property looking for metal to STEAL – and they make a mess for you to clean up while they’re at it. Once, I placed an old gas BBQ grill in the alley for someone to take. Sure enough, they took it, but not before dumping out all the ashes right in the middle of the driveway for me to clean up. I was sooooo angry. I totally would have slashed their tires had I known who did it.
And then there’s the way they steal all the aluminum cans I set out for the city to collect every other thursday – money going into their pockets that I intended to be used by the city to help cover the costs of trash collection – thus increasing the cost of citywide trash collection.
So what do these scrappers know that I don’t? Are they getting more than the $40/ton I was quoted? How does the economics make sense? How long do they have to drive up and down the alleys before they get a pickup load? Assuming they’re packing their 1/2 ton pickup truck with a full ton of metal, are they really only getting $40? And that covers the cost of driving their 1975 Ford pickup up and down the alley every night and leaves some left over as profit? Just seems like they’d be better off with a minimum wage job… Am I only fueling a thieving industry of vagabonds when I place unwanted metal in the alley where I know the scrappers will find it?