• Getting to Green

    An administrator pushes, on a shoestring budget, to move his university and the world toward a more sustainable equilibrium.


The first rule of Scrap Club

... is that you do talk about Scrap Club.

March 27, 2008

... is that you do talk about Scrap Club.

According to a piece that I heard on public radio this week, that's a moderately successful outfit in the UK whose business model involves picking up people's junk (especially large items) for free, removing any dangerous components or fluids, collecting the remainder in a warehouse, and then charging members of the public about $20 each to come in and bash it with a blunt instrument. While listening to an interview with one of the entrepreneurs involved, I couldn't help thinking how such an opportunity might meet the needs of students -- especially in a late April/early May timeframe.

A counterpoint was a story about 1-800-Got-Junk, a successful US franchise of up-market trash haulers. In that bit, a Got-Junk crew helped empty a house which was inherited from a customer's family member. The job took 2 trips in each of two dump-trucks (one-ton models, I believe), and cost the customer about $1200. Got-Junk employees apparently earn on the order of $10/hour, but they get to keep any items they want and keep any recycling proceeds they generate. One twenty-something driver apparently equipped his whole apartment with recaptured furniture.

Finally, there was an item about recycling of electronics. According to NPR's Morning Edition, US consumers recycle only about 15% of their electronic waste; the other 85% (including lots of hazardous and otherwise nasty materials), goes into landfills where it leeches into the soil for years -- possibly decades.

So, put it all together. There are folks who are willing to pay hefty charges to get unwanted items hauled away, folks who will happily haul items away for free, and an opportunity to increase recycling -- particularly of environmentally damaging wastes. Organize it right, and students can get a needed cathartic experience which doesn't involve hurling in someone's front yard, the surrounding community can get useful services for free, the environment can benefit, and the whole thing can be (at least largely) self-funding through metals and other materials recycling proceeds.

Now, if I only knew an MBA/Entrepreneurship candidate who was dating someone in Education/Student Affairs ...

Could something like this work?


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