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The Big Business of Scavenging in Postindustrial America

The New York Times Magazine –  The U.S. produces more garbage than any other nation in the world per capita. Here’s how scrappers are turning that waste into a $32 billion business.

“The recycling of scrap metal is a $32 billion business in the United States, according to IBISWorld. As virgin materials become increasingly difficult to mine — and demand soars globally for metals — scrap is more important than ever. When he makes a good find, like discovering a length of copper wire, for example, he immediately checks the current prices using an app on his phone called iScrap, which lists the rates for all types of scrap metal. When it comes to copper wire, there’s “bare bright,” “tin coated copper,” “insulated wire copper,” “computer wire” and many others. Depending on the prices, he may opt to cash in right away or hoard it until prices go up…”

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