A friend of mine recently took all of her old gold jewelry and sold it for a couple of hundred dollars. She did it because business is bad, she needed the cash, she doesn't wear the jewelry.
She is not the only one who has recycling metals for cash on the brain. Seems that with the soaring price in steel , there is now a real problem in cities throughout the country where criminal recyclers are helping themselves to city manholes covers. Recycling a manhole cover brings in about $20 at the scrap yard. They cost cities about $200 to replace.
The New York Times, USA Today ,and several cable outlets and many local papers have all done stories about this trend.
The NYT article brought the ire of the Institute of Scrap Metal Industries who were not happy with the Philadelphia city worker quoted in the article who impugned the integrity of the scrap metals owners by saying,
“These guys here,” Mr. Sergeant said, pointing at one scrap yard, “They’d buy a police cruiser and melt it down if we brought it in. The prices for metal are just that good these days.”
The Institute sent a response to the NYT sharing all the action steps the institute has taken to help cities prepare for possible thefts. They took issue with the story for a couple of reasons. First, they said they were the ones in the spring who sent out an alert to city government warning them to be on the lookout for thieves targeting the manhole covers. They were also not too keen that the NYT used the politically incorrect term " junkyard."
while maybe a matter of semantics, the repeated use of the term “junkyards” to
refer to scrap recycling centers seems to be both pejorative and overtly negative for no
apparent reason. Today’s recycling centers are a far cry from the old “junkyards” of
yesterday, processing more than 150 million tons of recyclable materials in 2007 and
providing major economic and environmental benefits in the process. The scrap
recycling industry is a $71 billion industry in the U.S. alone, supplying raw material
feedstock to steel mills, foundries, paper mills, refiners, and other industrial consumers
The scrap recycling industry proudly works everyday to strengthen local economies,
providing jobs for our neighbors and raw materials for manufacturers here and around
the globe, while contributing to an industry that is in fact the world’s largest and oldest
environmental industry. The scrap recycling industry has been and will continue to be
committed to working with law enforcement, community leaders, and affected
businesses to help stem the problem of materials theft, and ensure the safety and
success of all communities.
How much has the price of steel increased ? From the UK's building construction blog, wnibi.com,
Iron ore increased by 71% in 12 months. Since 2004, iron ore prices have risen by a huge 300%.
Coking coal has risen by 240% in 16 months, mainly attributed to falling output from Australia.
Scrap prices in the UK have risen by 75% since March 2008 - so don’t throw your scrap away, sell it!
Once these raw material cost increases are taken in conjunction with the rising cost of freight and energy, then the inevitable result is an increase in price of steel wire and steel derivatives right through the supply chain.
The effect of the above has seen steel billet prices rise by 100% since 2007. The knock-on effect has seen a 50% increase in finished products such as nails, screws and other fasteners. There are further increases forecast for the coming months and so these industrial commodities look likely to rise and keep on rising.
Global demand- particularly from China and India are sited as main factors for the price increases.
In doing some research for this story I learned that a favorite job interview question has to do with manhole covers. Since I haven't been on a job interview in a lifetime I never knew. Here's the question, did anyone ever ask you?
Why do interviewers ask it? Well, it's so well known now that they shouldn't anymore but originally it was to see how interviewees responded. It's a way to get a sense for an interview candidate's ability to think on his or her feet outside of their area of expertise. The way the candidate approaches the problem, thinks of and presents potential solutions, defends them, or discards them are all relevant to the interviewer.
In case you want to know some of the explanations, you can Ask Leo! who shares that he is talking about the manhole cover as part of his marketing effort to plug his new ebooks on interviewing tips.