Tuesday, 8 March 2011

it pays to recycle - by Theo

Just around the corner from our flat is a recycling place, a Chatarreria, which buys paper and metals. I remember noticing it when we first moved in. As we're practically religious when it comes to observing recycling, I figured we might make a few cents selling our paper recycling to them, though to be honest I've never even been over to inquire what they pay. We haven't needed money that badly to make the effort, and neither, to begin with, did it seem the general public did either. Occasionally during our first year here I might see an old lady turn up with a few carefully tied bundles of old newspapers on her wheelie trolley, but otherwise they seemed to get little by way of walk-in trade.

However over the past 6 months there seems to have been a different shift. The first time I spotted it was a quiet Sunday morning, I was on nap duty and I watched with quiet amazement as a young chap, maybe 24, pushed a shopping trolley up to the paper recycling bank, push his arm in and grab out great wodges of magazines to fill up his trolley. Now I know that, thanks largely to Chinese demand for raw materials, the market value of scrap metal has shot up massively over the last few years (and indeed I have seen people rolling up to the Chatarreria with trolleys of metal pulled from skips) but I didn't realise there was much value in second hand paper. Clearly, however much they get for it, it's worth it. Whether it's just because I've been looking for it or people genuinely are on the paper hunt more than before, but I now see them everywhere. The paper hunters range from solo operators, pushing trolleys of various descriptions around the street, raiding the big, public recycling bins, to van loads, who drive around working in teams.

Well, in times of crisis I guess any bit of paper can serve for cash.

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