If every cloud has a silver lining, the lining on the recessionary cloud is trash—lots of it. More and more people across San Jose are turning trash into cash by bringing aluminum cans and glass and plastic bottles for recycling and a refund. Once considered the income of the indigent, collecting recyclable trash is cutting across all economic sectors and incomes. At Ranch Town Recycling, they are seeing more and more people in expensive cars come to bring in their trash.

Trading in recyclables has long been a mainstay of recessionary economics. In 1992, some 82 percent of aluminum, glass, and plastic containers sold across California were recycled, but this nosedived to 55 percent in 2003. By 2008 the number had climbed to 74 percent, and now it’s back up to 82 percent.

The rate per items may seem rather minor at first—5 cents for every aluminum, glass, and plastic container up to 24 ounces, and 10 cents for every plastic container of 24 ounces or more. At Ranch Town Recycling, they pay $2 for every pound of aluminum. That comes to about 30 cans. 20 glass bottles also get $2, and the money adds up.

The environmental impact is huge. Just ten years ago, the California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery estimated that the state had about 35 years of space left in its existing landfills. Now the number is 45 years, though the decline in construction projects is also a factor. But much of this is also attributed to families, who are dropping off their cans and bottles, instead of simply leaving them curbside and waiting for the city to pick them up. When people are scrounging for every cent, a penny saved is a penny earned.
Read More at The Mercury News.