Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Buyer's Market


I met a scrapper one day. He was pushing almost ton of car parts (his words) in his shopping cart. He said not many could do what he was doing, not many would be able to push so much metal along the streets. He was wiry and muscled, and in the summer noon heat, sweat gathered on his arms and chest.

He slept on the street. Selling scrap was his job. He said he always looked for the best price. Maybe he went from shop to shop, because there's a scrap metal shop here in Blissville, and three more over the bridge in Greenpoint. Scrappers are a common sight here.

Years later a friend who works in recycling explained the economics: the tankers that arrive with manufactured goods from abroad (mostly China) don't return empty, but laden with scrap and paper. Paper is the city's biggest export volumetrically. But scrap is its most lucrative.

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