Is it Recycling or Scavenging?

The article in Craines NY Business outlines a young entrepreneur who is getting rich on the labor of the less fortunate while he is probably undermining years of recycling education in the City of New York. There are really two questions here.

The first is that the company its relying on people scavenging (allegedly) through the unseparated garbage of certain commercial and apartment complexes to find redeemable cans and bottles.

gray market recycling operationOn its face, there are problems here. The fact that people are not separating the materials in the first place is a violation of City law. The fact that he is offering property owners a service that essentially says don’t do more to separate your recyclables as required by law is probably a violation of City Law. The fact that he is operating a gray market recycling operation without a Business Integrity Commission License is certainly a violation of the spirit of the law.

I am all for doing what can be done to enhance recycling in all locations. Recycling creates jobs and in many programs helps to employ low skilled laborers in meaningful employment while they perform a valuable service.

Unfortunately, this program relies on people to whom this “entrepreneur” is not offering any job benefits…wages, health benefits,etc…On whose earnings he does not pay any taxes as an employer is required to do. His “employees” make no contributions to their future social security or medicare payments and the company makes limited contributions to the local economy.

In many poor countries scavengers scour landfills and garbage dumps for recyclable materials and sell them to people like this gentleman. Is this really how we want to have recycling work in this country?

Let’s think again.

Read the full article:
Conrad Cutler built an empire on recycling cans. But he’s putting a dent in city revenue

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