June 2017 Archives

Have you tried to recycle a large item lately?

I'm not talking about throwing a few empty bottles into the recycling bin. I'm not talking about turning in a bag full of cans for a buck or two. I'm not talking about taking waste oil to the local auto parts store. No sir - those are all no-brainers and relatively easy to do.

I'm talking about visiting a "recycler" - the kind of place that deals with scrap metal, junked cars, old wire, and whatnot. If you haven't had such an opportunity, you'll be in for a treat when you do.

"Steve, how could it be that bad," you ask? By now you should know that such questions are rhetorical and unnecessary. :-)

It all started when I purchased some industrial-size electrical wire from a local sound company. I was faced with needing 100+ feet of heavy-duty 4/4 SOOW cable (4 conductor, 4 gauge). New wire in that size is *expensive* - like $4-$5/foot. I was looking for lower-cost options and located some from the local sound company. They were willing to sell some older, used cable in that size for a greatly reduced price.

We made a deal, and I "threw" the 115-pounds of cable into my car and headed home to terminate it to my 480-volt, 3-phase, 50-amp Hubbell connectors. By the way - I owe a huge round of thanks to my pal Jed for the hook-up on the connectors and numerous other electrical items. Thanks, Jed!!!!!!

Upon arrival to my house, I began to prep the wire, and quickly discovered that the wire's insulation/jacketing was bad. It crumbled and fell apart as I tried to work with it. If there's one thing you don't want, it's bare wire touching other bare wire in a 240-volt "extension cord."

The sound company was *excellent* to deal with - I told them what happened, and they immediately refunded my money, apologized profusely, and then told me to keep the wire/recycle it/whatever. I figured I would do the right thing and take it to a recycling plant, cash in, and everyone would win.

My first attempt to recycle the wire at Recycler "A" came to an end after I grew tired of sitting in line (in my car) for 35-minutes and not moving one car-length closer to the recycling center. There were at least 7-8 semi trailers in front of me the entire time, with no sign of any movement.

My second attempt to recycle the wire was thwarted as Recycler "B" was closed by 3:45pm on a Thursday afternoon.

My third attempt involved yet a different recycler, "All Metal Recycling".

I arrived to the recycling plant and discovered no signage, no instructions, and no apparent sense of any workflow/traffic flow. So, after some wandering around, I located an "office" (which wasn't marked) and made my way inside.

Behind about 3" of solid glass with a small slot at the bottom of the glass for which to pass papers through, sat a guy who was on the phone with someone. I stood there for a few minutes; he looked over with a confused expression.

I asked, "Hi - any idea where I go to drop-off some copper wire for recycling?"

He said, "We just closed."

I looked at my watch - it was 3:50pm. Apparently recyclers rise with the chickens and hit the hay with the roosters. Ugh.

I said, "Ok, no problem."

"Take the wire over to that building there," he said, pointing at a metal building on one of his security monitor screens.

I tried to look for some familiar points of reference so that I could find the building. I eventually made it to the front of the building, which had a single door and a step or two that went down into the building. Inside the building it was dark and incredibly dirty/disorganized looking.

There was another guy there, and it was pretty obvious that he and I weren't going to converse too much. He mumbled something and pointed at a cement-like platform in the middle of the floor. I set the 100-ish pounds of wire on the platform, and then he studied something on a computer screen. The "computer" resembled a TRS-80 from the mid 1980s.

He mumbled something else and I couldn't understand him. We looked at each other for a bit. I said, "Sorry - I didn't understand?"

He mumbled again and made a "square" gesture with his hands. I was guessing he needed my ID. So, I handed him my drivers license. He took it and "scanned" it into the TRS-80, which took a minute or two to process before my info came onto the screen.

He handed my license back, along with a "receipt" of sorts that showed I had turned-in "59.7lbs of #2 industrial cable."

Um... wrong on both accounts, but I didn't want to argue. I figured I should take that receipt back to the office, so I went back into the office. The same guy from behind the glass was still on the phone. I slid the receipt through the glass slot.

Without looking, he took the slip and did a few things on his "computer" which appeared to be a slightly newer TRS-80. After a minute or two, he slid another slip of paper under the glass. It was another receipt.

I looked at the receipt, and it had my name and a "transaction" list, along with a barcode. I looked rather confused, and he pointed to an ATM in the far corner of the little entry area. I took the slip over to the ATM, and scanned the receipt's bar code.

The machine then spit out $14.

I looked at my receipt, and it said: "59.7lbs wire = $16.93. ATM fee $2.00. Rounding fee $0.93. Total paid $14.00"

Ha! So... besides being incredibly confusing and difficult to work with, the recycler charges to give you money and keeps any change. Super awesome.

Granted, the $14 was free to me, but wowser. There has to be a better system/way, right? Some super basic signage would help, and how about not gouging for a non-existent ATM surcharge? (ATMs charge you a fee because the network on which they communicate (typically Cirrus) charges banks a transaction fee. This machine didn't need any network to communicate - it just read the barcode and dispensed money)

Ugh. It's a wonder people recycle any large items.


Rant #2 - brief:

Why is it that the USPS happily delivers mail to my PO Box that's addressed to "Susan Jones" and "Thomas Radcliffe" (the addresses don't include, "or current resident" - these are things like bank statements, credit card offers, and so on), but when a piece of mail arrives for "Steve Litscher, 608 Sound and Light" they leave a note in my PO Box that says, "Holding mail for you because 608 Sound and Light isn't listed on your PO Box application. Please see a clerk."

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

April 2017 is the previous archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Pages