Q&A with the Ultimate Recycler

27 Feb

IMG_3038_cropThis quarter’s featured business is Ed’s Alloy Recycling in Watsonville. Ed came to the U.S. from Argentina in 1985 after winning a lottery that granted him a visa to live and work here permanently.

A natural entrepreneur, Ed had been a vegetable seller in Argentina, but wanted to try something different here. Through a friend, he learned the business of auto parts scavenging and now owns Ed’s Alloy Recycling in Watsonville, where he collects over 10 to 50 tons of metal a month.

Ed runs the business together with his son, Gianfranco, collecting the metal that comes to them in many forms. The day we visited there was an ornate, brass chandelier, a pet crate, and a gas grill, in addition to the usual lengths of copper wire, tire rims, and old catalytic converters.

Q: Do you have a lot cool, metal stuff at home?
A: (Laughing) I’m not allowed to decorate my home anymore. Actually, the rule is that I’m not allowed to bring home anything that doesn’t work.

Q: These metal dog crates look like they’re in very good shape, do you sell or reuse items like that?
A: Yes, absolutely, I can sell them at the flea market. Many of the tires that come in on the metal rims have a lot miles left on them so I put them aside for my friends.

IMG_2970Q: What happens to the items that can’t be sold or reused?
A: They go to a foundry in Oakland, where the metal is melted down and recast.

Q: What made you decide to become a Green Business?
A: Someone was interested in buying my business and they wanted it to be certified “green”. We didn’t end up selling to them, but I went through the process to become a certified Green Business anyway.

Q: Was it difficult to become a certified Green Business?
A: No! It was a piece of cake. Almost everything I do is about reuse or recycling, so it was easy and the process was simple.

IMG_3015Q: Did you learn anything about water or energy conservation by going the Green Business certification process that you didn’t already know?
A: Yes, I put those aerators on my faucets, because you don’t need so much water for hand washing, I learned how to check for toilet leaks, and how to manage the spills from leaky engines better. Now I keep engine parts that might have fluids covered or inside, so they can’t mix with rainwater and go down the storm drain and into the creeks.

Q: Okay, one last question: what is the most unusual item that someone has brought to you?
A:  Oh yeah, somebody once brought a bomb. It was one made just for training, but still, it was bomb.

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Special thanks to photographer Lauren McEvoy

Ed’s Alloy Recycling
1705 Freedom Blvd
Watsonville, California
Phone: 408-472-4726