Take my waste, please!
June 8, 2010 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Want a 5,000 pound roll of used denim every week for free? No? How about 40,000 pounds of organic fruit and vegetable waste every day? Want to get rid of a few thousand wooden cable reels instead? RecycleMatch is betting that one company's waste stream is a supply stream for some lucky manufacturer out there.
posted by cross_impact (39 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
How about 40,000 pounds of organic fruit and vegetable waste every day?

My long-term dream of becoming a vermicomposting god is one step closer to fruition.
posted by Shepherd at 10:32 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sure you can't do this but man it would be great to arrange for 40,000 pounds of waste to be delivered to say, Karl Rove's house daily.
posted by ghharr at 10:33 AM on June 8, 2010 [17 favorites]

Fiber insulation can be easily made from post-consumer denim.
posted by pjdoland at 10:36 AM on June 8, 2010

Great idea. More like this, please.
posted by nevercalm at 10:39 AM on June 8, 2010

This is fantastic. I just wish that I knew people who could use this.
posted by Hactar at 10:40 AM on June 8, 2010

40,000 pounds of organic fruit and vegetable waste is a total freaking goldmine for any pig farmer. If this company were in New England, they would have been matched up already.

One major thing this site is missing is a search by area - although I have a feeling they maybe don't have so many listings yet?

The bank I work for recycles hundreds of beautiful move-worthy cardboard boxes every year. Do you know how much Staples charges for them things?
posted by boghead at 10:46 AM on June 8, 2010

40,000 of fruit waste is a goldmine for anyone making their own ethanol fuel.
posted by DU at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2010

Best of [the Rest, on] the Web.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:48 AM on June 8, 2010

You laugh, Shepherd, but that would be a dream come true for me. If only I knew the first thing about starting a business. And had the space to deal with 40,000 pounds per day.
posted by cereselle at 10:49 AM on June 8, 2010

Oh and there's a place near my house with a ton of those wooden reels, too. Every time I drive by I wish I could have N for the kids to play on.
posted by DU at 10:49 AM on June 8, 2010

Looks like a safe site even though WOT warned me ahead of time. It might have been compromised back in May. Seems like a really great idea and I hope it takes off!
posted by samsara at 10:53 AM on June 8, 2010

This is a really cool idea, but there's some odd things there. 2,000 cable drums? Why don't you, I don't know, try giving them back to the person who put the cable on the drum in the first place?

Or am I displaying my naivety in thinking the cable is either manufactured in the US or is manufactured on much bigger, more transport friendly drums and respooled in the US?

BTW, is anyone else reading the title like the punchline of a 70's standup comedian...?
posted by sodium lights the horizon at 10:54 AM on June 8, 2010

Also, shredding the denim to spin into yarn would be seriously cool.
posted by cereselle at 10:55 AM on June 8, 2010

sodium lights the horizon: I suspect that the transportation costs to return the spools to a company which can use them are beyond the willingness of most companies to pay.

We really don't do a good job of incorporating recycling and end-of-life costs into any stage of our supply and product chains.
posted by hippybear at 11:00 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

You laugh, Shepherd

Hell no, I'm dead serious. I proposed something to town council about a decade ago regarding free pick-up of organic household waste for giant vermicomposting bins to be established in one of the town's abandoned textile mills, yielding free compost for the citizens, biogases, and heat. It was a fuzzy and non-scientific proposal, and they laughed.

Well, they sent me a polite form letter, actually.

Now they're doing the residential organic waste pick-up, and long-term intend to create a biodiesel plant to fuel our fleet of municipal buses, which is probably an even better idea anyway.
posted by Shepherd at 11:10 AM on June 8, 2010

I wonder what we can do with oily beach sand...
posted by kenaldo at 11:10 AM on June 8, 2010

Great! I inquired about the closed cell foam. I just bought four rolls last week. D'oh!
posted by I'm Doing the Dishes at 11:12 AM on June 8, 2010

Wapcaplet: String, washing powder, what's the difference. We can sell anything.

Simpson: Good. Well, I have this large quantity of string, 122,000 miles of it, to be exact, which I inherited. And I thought if I advertised it ...

Wapcaplet: Well of course - a national campaign. Useful stuff, string ... no trouble there.

Simpson: Ah, but there's a snag you see. Due to bad planning, the 122,000 miles is in three-inch lengths. So it's not very useful.

Wapcaplet: Well, that's our selling point. "Simpson's Individual Stringettes."

Simpson: What?

Wapcaplet: The Now String! Ready-cut, easy to handle, "Simpson's Individual Empress Stringettes" - just the right length!

Simpson: For what?

Wapcaplet: Uh, a million household uses!

Simpson: Such as?

Wapcaplet: Um, tying up very small parcels, attaching notes to pigeons' legs, destroying household pests...

Simpson: Destroying household pests?! How?

Wapcaplet: Well, if they're bigger than a mouse, you can strangle them with it, and if they're smaller, then you flog 'em to death with it.
posted by CaseyB at 12:01 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Freecycle, writ large. Superb idea.

In the early 90s, I shared a house in the UK with a young entrepreneur who one day came home with what looked like a fax machine, but which had an antenna connection on the back in place of a phone jack.

It received a data stream from an organization that sounded semi-official, like "World Trade Commission", and once it was hooked up, it spat out a daily stream of, basically, classified ads placed by various private and state-sponsored national and international entities on a long roll of fax-like paper.

I remember seeing near-matching pairs of "sought" and "on offer" items, sometimes in the same day, for example, someone in Azerbaijan looking to get rid of 300 off-road dump trucks, and someone in Siberia looking for 250 off-road dump trucks, COD only.

We were young and foolish and ambitious and in many ways it's a great shame we never brokered and executed a trade like that ...
posted by kcds at 12:11 PM on June 8, 2010

Upcycle the denim into sofa covers, in Ikea-standard sizes. Cheap, hard-wearing, familiar. Leave pockets in as handy places to keep TV remotes.

This thing is a goldmine
posted by Leon at 12:40 PM on June 8, 2010

If you can build a house out of bales of hay, could you build a house out of the bales of polyester textile waste?
posted by onhazier at 12:54 PM on June 8, 2010

Hey neat -- we have a local one of these that you can occasionally find some really nifty stuff in. Free baby grand piano!
posted by jessamyn at 12:55 PM on June 8, 2010

I'm sure you can't do this but man it would be great to arrange for 40,000 pounds of waste to be delivered to say, Karl Rove's house daily.

I'd bet they'd hardly notice another 20 tons with all the bile spilling out of it already.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 1:04 PM on June 8, 2010

sodium lights the horizon: Why don't you, I don't know, try giving them back to the person who put the cable on the drum in the first place?

Probably cause it would cost almost as much to ship the rolls back as it did to ship the cable. Granted their lighter, so they'd use less fuel, but you'd still have to pay for driving them across the country (or wherever)

On top of that, They'd start to break down after a while. So then you have to come up with a system of keeping track how many time one has been used, which is an admin cost. Even the simple task of having someone look at them first and just throw away the bad ones would cost more money. Sometimes it's just easier to let the buyer throw it away.

When's the last time you mailed your empty cans back to Coca-Cola?
posted by toekneebullard at 1:35 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

Actually, we have a huge number of shipping containers here in the US because no one wants to waste the fuel to ship them back to China/Hong Kong/wherever.
posted by nevercalm at 1:38 PM on June 8, 2010

I suspect so, onhazier. But a 5,000 lb. roll? Every week? Hmm... 5,000 pounds/week x 52 weeks = my house thickened 10, 20, 30 times round. Yikes!
posted by drogien at 2:01 PM on June 8, 2010

When's the last time you mailed your empty cans back to Coca-Cola?

Actually, that's a disingenuous comparison to make. Aluminum recycling is a well-established waste stream in the US, with many users returning cans for minimal cash return to a centralized location which then oversees the consolidation and shipment to a plant which reprocesses the metal.

A better comparison would be, when's the last time you mailed your empty boxes back to Amazon?
posted by hippybear at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]

Ok, serious question. I see waste fruit, vegetables, cotton and cardboard. Probably getting on for fifty tonnes a day of the green stuff.

Why isn't this stuff already being, at the very least, composted and sold? Is there a glut of organic fertilizer in the US or something?
posted by Leon at 2:41 PM on June 8, 2010


I am moving at the end of the month and did not want to spend $100 in boxes. I went to 5 "free moving boxes" places posted on craigslist and managed to get a grand total of 3 useful boxes.

I was telling my wife it would be a great business for the dudes that pick up cardboard and glass in the beat up pick-up trucks to select the good boxes and sell them for 5 times as much as they get at the recycling plant, still lots cheaper than new boxes. I would love to be able to go to a local place and pick up 30 or 40 good condition used boxes that the same guys would later pick up in their trucks if I left them outside and gave them a call.

Then I found usedcardboardboxes.com, which does not exactly the same, but something similar. For $38, shipping included, I got more used boxes than $120 would get me at the cheapest place I could find for new boxes.

There is another site that will buy back your boxes if they are in good condition, but the end cost would have been higher for me.

So yeah, there are lots of business opportunities in recycling and reusing. The poorer the country, the more people have occupied the niche. There is a reason why there are not many goodwill stores in Mexico and Central America.
posted by dirty lies at 2:42 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


I worked on a project once were we designes and built prototypes of all the equipment needed for a university to vermicompost the 6 weekly tons of vegetable waste that just one kitchen produced.

The project would save the university thousands of dollars a year in fertilizers and waste disposal. The facilities people, from the head of the department all the way down to the gardeners, were really excited. Our prototypes worked, and it would cost less than $2,000 to implement. We even got the accounting people to look at the project and give it the go ahead, we were sure we had overlooked lots of hidden costs, but at the end it still made financial sense. The P.R. people loved the project.

It was blocked because the school administration could not decide where to fit the project in the org chart. Who would take credit for the savings? Who would get their budget adjusted? Who would have to add the project manager to their payroll? The kitchen? Facilities? Gardening? The sustainable agriculture department?

Stupidity prevents this things from happening.
posted by dirty lies at 2:53 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]

2000 wooden cable reels a year? Hippie Ikea here I come! Now I need a few thousand used cinder blocks. Old boards. And....

Lava lamps!
posted by Splunge at 3:14 PM on June 8, 2010

You know how to make lava lamps out of cable reels and cinder blocks??? Maker faire, here you come!
posted by hippybear at 3:37 PM on June 8, 2010

I think Metafilter should get in on this by recycling tired old opinions and overused jokes.
posted by turgid dahlia at 3:49 PM on June 8, 2010

I was talking to a woman who worked at a food processing company. She said the company was working on a diet pill based on potato skins. They would literally load in tons of potatos, remove the skins, and then throw out the remaining potato!
posted by delmoi at 5:44 PM on June 8, 2010

drogien, the bales are 500 lbs; not 5,000 lbs. There are 40 bales a week. That gives you 20,000 lbs of baled fabric a week. I'm curious about the dimensions of each bale. If they are using the same dimensions of a cotton bale, then they're 54 by 20 by 33 inches. oooh... I would love a house with deep window seats like that. My grandparent's house was adobe and had walls nearly 2 feet thick. In a house made of fabric bales, you'd never hear the kids playing in the next room. Now, I just have to convince my husband of my latest crazy scheme.
posted by onhazier at 7:22 PM on June 8, 2010

Also, shredding the denim to spin into yarn would be seriously cool.

They've been doing that since Victorian times. The resulting fluff from the shredded fabric is called shoddy, and sometimes it's made into fabric again, only the recycled fabric doesn't wear as well as the original stuff, since it's been so abused.

You could also bleach the old denim fluff it and turn it into good paper.
posted by Lycaste at 7:36 PM on June 8, 2010

This is an awesome idea for those companies looking to donate their raw materials. For those companies with an excess of finished goods that they are planning to discard, there are nonprofits like Gifts In Kind International that can distribute these goods to other nonprofits that need them.
posted by thedotorg at 8:44 PM on June 8, 2010

These sorts of exchanges are great. The government in my neck of the woods has been running one for a couple of decades at least— I remember being able to get the listings in printed-catalog form, though of course they're on the web now. Have spent the odd hour wondering what you might be able to do with, say, 5 tons of plasma-cutter slag, recurring weekly. Somebody wants that, I'm sure…
posted by hattifattener at 10:34 PM on June 8, 2010

A buddy of mine runs an organic landscaping product company. He composts waste products and adds them with other natural materials to make premium garden and potting soils. One of his product lines is now impossible to turn a profit on and is running him out of the business, mulch. What would be forest waste products, the branches and tailings from logging and pulping used to be super-cheap for him to buy and turn into organic mulch. Now those products get burned in power plants as "renewable energy" and he can't get them at a low enough cost to be able to sell at a reasonable price.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:52 AM on June 9, 2010

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