‘Scrappers’ scouring curbside garbage lucrative and legal
Every day, almost 900 tonnes of garbage is sent to the Waterloo Region Landfill.
Education, recycling and compost programs have all been implemented to help reduce that number, but there’s one way of salvaging used items that doesn’t always meet with the same positive reaction.
John Sapay knows what that way is. He does it himself.
“I feel good because I’m helping the environment,” he tells CTV.
“I was sort of embarrassed at first.”
What does Sapay do? He patrols neighbourhoods in the evening hours as a scrapper.
‘Scrappers’ are those who keep an eye on what’s being thrown to the curb, looking for the usable and the sellable.
In Sapay’s case, he works with fellow scrapper Phyllis Vere to scour neighbourhoods in Waterloo Region.
“There’s money on the streets,” says Sapay.
Sometimes the pair even find repeat business, or talk to people who aren’t quite ready to dispose of certain items, but say they’ll call Sapay and Vere when they are.
But more common is noticing an old appliance sitting on the curb, which is how the pair were first introduced to Roger Neves.
“I’ve often thought hey, what are these guys doing, are they stealing stuff?” says Neves.
But over time, Neves learned what Sapay and Vere were doing with his stuff, and now they’re his first call when he’s cleaning house.
“(Sapay) helps me get rid of a dryer that, for me to get a truck and haul it away, is just a pain,” says Neves.
Kathleen Barsoum of Waterloo Region’s waste management division says there’s nothing illegal about scrapping.
“As long as the stuff is getting recycled, that is the goal,” she says.
Sunday evenings often produce the best hauls.
“Most people clean up on the wekeends,” says Vere.
“We can get a lot and – I have a storage unit, I’ll put some in there – and we can go back out on Sunday night because people put their stuff out at different times.”
So what do they pick up?
“Anything that is recyclable, that has a motor in it,” says Vere.
“Anything with a piece of metal in it. E-waste such as electronics, TVs, VCRs, fridges, stoves. “
Scrap metal dealers are currently paying about $165 per tonne of metal – or 13 cents per pound for a mixed load.
Individual metals can be more valuable, with copper checking in at $2.80 per pound and brass raking in about $1.85 per pound.
An entire truckload for Vere and Sapay can fetch as much as $120.
CTV’s David Imrie is showing you ways to turn trash into cash this week on CTV News.