For every ton of stolen copper wire, there are 10 tons or more of legal and environmentally beneficial scrapping that is supporting low-income families and emerging entrepreneurs.
As a recent story aired on Marketplace explains, junk scrappers in Milwaukee, one of the poorest cities in the nation, have made it their business to harvest metal from discarded items in waste bins and construction dumpsters, saving them from being landfilled and earning them some cash at the same time by selling back the metal.
According to Marketplace, in Milwaukee County most African American men are incarcerated by the age of 50. But while professionals scrappers must apply for a permit within the city limits, any adult with an ID can sell back metal regardless of past violations on their record.
Although there are some scrappers who illegally steal metal from foreclosed homes and other vulnerable locations, junk scrapping provides most scrappers with a decent way to generate a small income in these tough economic times.
As junk scrapper Lamar Cox told Marketplace, "… every little bit helps me."