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[GreenYes] Re: C & D recycling facilities

Urban Ore in Berkeley has been recovering and selling used building materials for over 27 years.  We started as a scavenging organization at the landfill back when it cost about $5 per ton to dump, and worked our way upstream closer to the source by becoming a C & D buyback, dropoff, and curbside collector.  

Currently we operate from a three-acre site in industrial West Berkeley.  We still scavenge two to six tons per day from the refuse transfer station floor.  All our salvage services are licensed and insured, and we work closely with the City's Recycling Coordinator, the Refuse Superintendent, and the Zero Waste Commission. 

Our retail operations are replenished on a daily basis by haulers who come to us because we pay for their stuff; we're convenient and fast to use;  and because they save lots of money by disposing of their unwanted stuff through our system rather than taking it to the $100 per ton refuse transfer station a mile away.

To give you an idea of the scale of this operation, we regularly stock around 4,000 doors and 6,000 windows; scores of bathtubs, toilets, and sinks; lumber; bricks and blocks, and lots more.  We get our stuff from what we call our supply market:  people who have unwanted things.  We are generalists, but we don't get involved in vehicles or vehicle parts.  We have a 55 space parking lot that is full almost all the time.

The City pays us for our scavenging at the tip.  The current rate is $28.80 per ton.  The City (which owns and runs the transfer station), gets to keep the other $71.20/ton that haulers pay to dump this material.  This disposal fee, though appreciated, is a small part of our income; about half of one percent.  We collect sales taxes on all reuse sales, and currently send over $200,000 to the State annually.

We have a Habitat ReStore in our area.  All three of its employees used to work for us, and we keep in pretty close touch both through trading activities and by visiting one another.  The ReStore specializes in a different niche:  getting and selling new or nearly new merchandise from big box retailers.  They do not buy and they do not encourage residential customers.  The ReStore staff sources material using their power to grant tax benefits to large corporate donors.  Then they sell the material both wholesale and retail.  Of course this business model generates a completely different cost picture from an Urban Ore-style enterprise.  Urban Ore employs many more people:  38 to Habitat's 3.  Habitat's profits are used to sponsor new house construction for low income people.

Urban Ore believes that there is room for many different kinds of reuse businesses.  The City of Berkeley publishes a booklet that lists over 300 reuse businesses in Berkeley and Albany, a much smaller City to our north.  Many of these smaller and more specialized stores are Urban Ore's customers, either as suppliers or as buyers.

If this short summary generates any questions, I'd be pleased to answer them as I can.

Dan Knapp
Urban Ore, Inc.
A reuse and recycling business in Berkeley since 1980 

On Oct 16, 2007, at 11:10 AM, Dolph, Jan wrote:

On the issue of C&D, does anyone know of any cities that are operating a residential C&D program (similar to the Habitat's Re-Sale store)?  So far, I'm only finding that cities have commercial C&D programs.
Any information will be appreciated.

Jan Dolph
Program Coordinator
Solid Waste Services Department
City of Austin, Texas
(512) 974-1929


From: GreenYes@no.address [mailto:GreenYes@no.address] On Behalf Of Christine.McCoy@no.address
Sent: Friday, October 12, 2007 8:22 AM
To: Wayne Turner
Cc: GreenYes@no.address; Richard.Bray@no.address
Subject: [GreenYes] C & D recycling facilities

On another, yet similar note, I need information to help a C&D transfer station expand their operations here in the City of Alexandria, Virginia. They want to double the amount of through-put and it's in an industrialized part of the City but there are still citizens concerned about truck traffic, air quality, etc. What can we say to let them know that given the industrialized nature of that section of the City, that it's a beneficial land use? Anyone have any talking points to help us out?

Christine McCoy
City of Alexandria
703/519-3486 ext. 312

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