Auctioning trash for cash
“You can buy and sell almost anything on eBay” might as well be eBay’s unofficial tag line, but another site has taken it literally and dedicated themselves to selling rubbish. Waste Producer Exchange (WPE) have set up an auction site specifically to trade in waste between buyers and sellers in the South East of England.
The European Pathway to Zero Waste (EPOW) is a three-year European demonstration programme running until 31 March 2013. The South East of England was chosen as a research area as it has the highest landfill incidences of construction, demolition, commercial and industrial waste in England.
The idea is that anyone with waste to dispose of can list it on the WPE site making it available to buyers. Interested buyers pay for the waste and when they pick up they give a collection number to the seller. This collection number releases the funds from WPE into the buyers bank account. Cost is a flat 2.5% of the sale price.
It’s a neat idea, and certainly makes a difference from the regular marketplaces we’re used to trading on. It also meets my long held belief that there’s no point trying to out-eBay eBay. If you want to compete with eBay then it needs to be niche and non-competitive marketplace and certainly WPE meet these criteria for success.
If you’re generating a lot of waste and want to learn how to make money from it, as opposed to paying for it to be disposed of, then WPE have a number of training days across the South East in the first half of July.
I saw an article a while ago that suggested that it could become financially worthwhile to “Mine” old filled in Rubbish Dumps for the materials that we used to throw away.
After all years ago before ‘recycling, re-use and replace’ all sorts of materials used to be thrown away without a thought. Somewhere I have a Book on Electric Dustcarts that used to be used in some areas before, during and for a few years after World War II. In there there is a table of statistics of the materials that were salvaged from the rubbish before it was put into the incinerators(that provided the heat that generated the electricity that charged the batteries in the Dustcarts)
It was astonishing what was salvaged, including Gold, from the rubbish streams. In other areas all this went to Landfill so these materials could be sitting there awaiting “mining”. So why should we be surprised that rubbish today might haver a value.
I have no shame. Last week (with permission from the contractors) I went diving into a builder’s skip on a large site near Reading and rescued about 700 brand new bricks. That’s 400 for my mates driveway and 300 for my intended garden wall.
They were on final site clearance and chucking everything left on site away! Rescued several 8′ by 4′ sheets of ply as well that had merely been used to stop trucks digging up the new tarmac. Barring a few tyre marks they’re in perfect condition and again seemed such a shame to see them chucked in the skip as waste.
With the costs involved with emptying a skip these days just about every Site Foreman is happy for you to take out of his skip(subject to Health and Safety) almost anything that you want. For those such as myself with a Wood Burning Stove Skips are a happy hunting ground for such as pallets and other wood offcuts and such as branches from trees.
Of course all sorts of things are dumped into skips. I saw an almost complete Citroen 2CV(less wheels) in the top of one. Ideal source of spares if you are into 2CV’s.
That’s what the foreman told us – pretty much help yourself and please take as much as you can because every kilo taken out is a kilo less to pay for disposal of!
The sad thing is that if they’d just lined the half used pallets of bricks etc up at the side of the site a quick post on Gumtree would have had every sole trader builder from miles around clearing the site for free.
Its not only out of skips. I was told a story a few years ago. A bloke in Glasgow(he was a Wood Turner) was passing a demolition site. There was a large and growing pile of wood that had been taken out of the buildinmg. So he went back and saw the Foreman.
His question was “What are you going to do with the wood”. The answer “Burn it”. He then asked “Can I have it” to which the Foreman said “Help yourself”.
For the next few days the bloke ran back and fore with his car and a trailer collecting it. At the end he had removed all the wood.
The story I heard was he sold most if not all of it and paid off his mortgage. It was all Teak. Yet the Foreman was going to burn it.
A very sad skip that I saw was full of broken roof tiles. They had scooped them all up in the diggers bucket and dumped them in the skip and broken just about every one. Just imagine all the DIY’s and Small Builders who could have made use of them.
A few years ago I was sitting in the Car Park of a Motorway Services. There was a gang of workmen lifting a brick pedestrian area. They were the fancy patterned bricks. Some designer had decided that they had to be replaced with a slightly differant style of patterned bricks. So the old ones were to be lifted and dumped. So they all went into the skip.
Had I not been several hundred miles from home I might very well have had a word with the Foreman. But they were all destined for landfill.
A couple of years ago I saw the Site Foreman about having some pallets and branches from trees that they were cutting back. The Foreman was so pleased to get rid of it all(and save having to hire in so many skips at £many each that he had loaded his digger and delivered them all round to my house. There was more than enough to keep my wood burner going all winter and delivered free of charge to my frontdoor.
Remember the Site Foreman has a budget for Skips. If he can save so many skips by giving away such as pallets, surplus bricks and other materials that he would only dump it saves on his budget and helps his position if he is over budget elsewhere.