Scraponomics Episode 100: Metal Theft Presentation (Cont.) - Speaking the Same Language

Oct 01, 2015, 12:46 PM

“Learning another language is like becoming another person.” — Haruki Murakami, Japanese author

One of the biggest issues, in my opinion, that inhibits the ability for the scrap industry and law enforcement to work together to reduce metal theft is the language barrier. By language barrier, I’m referring to the difference between English and Scraponese; or rather, the terminology that the scrap industry uses for various commodities. So why is this such a big deal?

The thing you have to remember about scrap is that scrap-processors don’t purchase material as products. In other words, you won’t see Kenmore oven in our database. Instead, we purchase scrap material for its value as a commodity. Because a Kenmore oven is primarily steel-based, we’ll purchase it as the commodity Sheet Iron.

Similarly, we purchase aluminum siding as the commodity Aluminum Siding. But here’s where it gets a little tricky. Aluminum Siding is completely clean; meaning it’s free of any steel nails, rivets, plastic, etc. If someone sells aluminum siding with steel nails in it, we purchase it as Irony Aluminum, meaning aluminum with traces of steel, plastic, rubber, etc.

If law enforcement has an inquiry regarding aluminum siding, we’ll know to look up tickets involving both clean Aluminum Siding and Irony Aluminum. However, I think it’s important for law enforcement to have a basic understanding of scrap terminology like this so they can understand the summary reports we provide for them.

Another example of Scraponese is the difference between #1 and #2 Copper. #1 is essentially pre-consumer copper material that doesn’t contain any solder, paint, or corrosion, whereas #2 is mostly post-consumer material that does. If law enforcement has an inquiry about stolen copper piping, we’ll know to look up both categories, but again, it’s important to understand these scrap nuances, regardless.

Well, we’ve certainly covered a lot about metal theft lately. Next week, let’s summarize everything we’ve discussed.

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