By Marcia E. Gawecki
Every time that I took a turn in my Honda, the cans and bottles made a musical sound in my trunk. But when I hit the brakes, I realized that all of those cans likely toppled everywhere, and it was time to recycle.
But the only day that I can run errands is on Mondays, and EarthWize in Valle Vista and San Jacinto are closed that day.
The clerk at PIP Printing in Hemet steered me to Menlo Recycling, just a couple of blocks away on Buena Vista and Menlo. Let me just say one thing: Menlo Recycling is a serious recycling place, located in a warehouse with guys driving forklifts, so you probably don’t want to go there if you’re prissy or feint of heart.
It’s not like EarthWize Recycling which boast clean, metal trailers, with helpful clerks and are conveniently located next to Stater Bros. grocery stores. The problem with that arrangement is that I always spend all of my recycling money in Stater Bros. and generally only get about $8 for my trunkload.
When you drive up to Menlo Recycling, go directly to the back and get in line. (It’s kind of like the traffic flow at Strawberry Creek Shopping). Don’t do as I did and go in through the open exit. People get pretty excited when you do that–even if you’re a newcomer!
Once inside, grab your own large bins and start filling them, separating your plastic bottles, aluminum cans and glass bottles. Nobody waits on you, so you help yourself. All around me were people busying themselves with their recycling. It wasn’t a social gathering at all!
I filled my bins and looked around to see if they had left their caps on. I heard before that at some recycling centers, they make you take off the caps. I didn’t want to do that since I had more than 100 plastic bottles.
“No, honey, you keep the lids on,” said the woman ahead of me in line. “They weigh a little bit more, and every bit counts!”
She was sort of talking to me like I had never recycled before. Maybe because my bag broke and I had to chase down a couple of loose bottles. She also informed me that I didn’t need to crush every bottle, which was a relief.
But, behind me to my right was a guy putting auto parts into his bin, which was a metal bin instead of a plastic one. He was taking his time about it, sorting through boxes and dumping what looked like chunky pieces into this huge bin. Where was all of his cans and bottles, I wondered!
Then it occurred to me that he was recycling scrap metal!
So what the heck is considered scrap metal? The first I heard of it was a sign past the bridge in Valle Vista that reads: “No-No Scrap Metal!” I imagined that, in the dark of night, people were stealing bumpers from his rusty old cars and getting top dollar. Scrap metal referred to big chunks of metal like you’d find in junk yards. It’s not those tiny nuts and bolts that the guy behind me in line was putting into his cart.
The same lady was a wellspring of recycling information.
“First of all,” she told me, “EarthWize doesn’t pay top dollar, and Menlo Recycling will honor any PennySaver or other recycling coupons–as long as they’re local. I once got $2 for one coupon.”
“It’s hard to say what scrap metal they’ll take,” she continued. “Sometimes, you just have to bring it in and see. But for some metal, they only pay 2 cents a pound! I once got only $2 for a light metal ladder!”
The guys ahead of us were weighing metal strips that cover the bottom of doorways. Another guy had what looked like rusty brake drums. His total came to 75 pounds. In metal recycling, the heavier the piece, the better.
She said that she’s recycled her pots and pans because the finish was gone.
“Copper wire pays great, but it’s hard to find,” she said. “There’s copper in refrigerators, but you have to take them apart first, and that’s a lot of work!”
She said that ladders, wheelbarrows, computer parts, tools and even bags of screws are some things she’s recycled.
Maybe I should add metal to my recycling repertoire. I do a lot of walking and have come across metal bumpers and parts that would likely fetch a pretty penny!
When it came to my turn, I put the bins onto a huge scale, while the guy with the laptop was calculating the amounts. I ended up with a grand total of $18.98! That’s more than I’ve ever gotten before!
I had cash in hand and felt a little giddy about my scrap metal prospects! Maybe I could recycle that shopping cart that my sister gave me that’s rusting on my deck! And what about some of the bags of nuts and bolts that I never use?
Have places like Menlo Recycling always been around, or have just sprouted up during these hard economic times? It reminded me of the 2001 economic crisis in Argentina (when I lived in Chile) where folks were stealing metal from public sculptures. At first, it was the gold, then the copper, and then finally, the entire bronze statues!
This prospect of metal recycling appealed to me not just to clean out my shed, but to help clean up the Idyllwild environment. I’ll start with the shopping cart, the screws and the bumper that I saw in the bushes. If they take those, and give me a good price, then I’ll be hooked!
I wonder what kind of music my trunk will make when I add heavy metal to the mix?
Menlo Recycling is located at 445 E. Menlo in Hemet. Hours: Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Sundays and holidays.
Posted signs list prices and limitations of scrap metal recycling, including the need for a valid driver’s license.
For more information, call (951) 766-8520 or visit www.menlorecycling.com.
EarthWize Recycling is conveniently located in Valle Vista and San Jacinto next to Stater Bros. groceries. On their web site, there’s lots of fun facts about recycling. Visit www.earthwizerecycling.com.
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