Scraponomics Episode 93: Michigan State Police Training Seminar on Metal Theft

Aug 13, 2015, 01:18 PM

“Coming together is a beginning; staying together is progress; working together is success.” — Henry Ford

This week, I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries at a training seminar held by the Michigan State Police regarding metal theft. It was the first training session of its kind that we’ve done here in Michigan, so we are all excited to grow the collaboration effort between our industry and law enforcement to help reduce metal theft.

My presentation was about an hour. I mainly expressed that in order to understand the metal theft issue, you first need to deconstruct it. Before you can even understand things like, Who’s the problem? and What are some potential solutions?, you first need to understand what the scrap industry is; it’s role in society, how it functions, why we purchase material, how the commodities we purchase even get their values.

These concepts are important because without them, you’re left with catchy media tag-lines like, “Without a buyer, there wouldn’t be a seller.” If you listen to Scraponomics, you know that statements like this make absolutely no sense. It’s the economic and environmental equivalent of saying you want to wipe an entire country off the map, without realizing you’ll most-likely seal your own fate in the process.

When you see commodities like aluminum and copper on commodity exchanges, those values are determined, and fluctuate every day, based on the consumers’ demand to buy things like new vehicles and build new buildings. Ironically, that initial demand for a material is also what can give it enough value to merit recycling it. Indeed, without a buyer, there wouldn’t be a seller, but then nothing would be manufactured.

For the next few episodes, let’s dive further into the metal theft issue and discuss some potential solutions.

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