I never thought I would be reading a news items about theft of cardboard and yet, a new theft of waste is now a bizarre reality, in many locations across the globe, thanks to the current value of this recyclable waste material.
Not Just Metal
For several years, we have been aware of the issues associated with the theft of metal, caused by a spike in the value of scrap metal. Rapid industrialisation throughout China and India, led to a significant increase in the value of scrap metals including bronze, copper, brass, aluminium, steel and cast iron.
At the time when scrap metal prices hit their peak several years ago, major disruption occurred across the globe, thanks to thieves making off with any metal items they could get their hands on. The removal of copper wiring, railway tracks, earthing cables from power substations, metal doors and footbridges, the list was endless and the chaos that ensued was both costly and hugely disruptive.
Many of the items that were stolen and destroyed, such as statues and monuments were irreplaceable. This criminal activity had a major economic impact and the ripple effect was widespread. Serious safety issues were arising, affecting the public in many instances, through general disruption. There were also several fatalities following instances where thieves made off with manhole covers with devastating consequences.
The result of all this was a huge increase in security measures, making it harder for thieves to access this lucrative waste stream and now, as bizarre as it may sound, many criminal eyes have turned to cardboard and paper as an alternative way to generate easy cash.
Unlike metal, baled cardboard and paper are not an area that businesses have had to protect using alarms and CCTV cameras as a deterrent, until now…
With industry growth throughout China and India pushing up the value of this resource, this baled material is providing an economically viable income for thieves with the wherewithal to trawl the curbs with a suitable sized vehicle, collecting bales that have been left outside, unattended for collection.
The current value of baled cardboard ranges anywhere from £45 to £70 per tonne, so by timing their excursions well and hitting on the right loading areas at the right time, there is a potential for small groups with a large van to make relatively large sums of money on a daily basis.
This Is Not A Victimless Crime
Theft of waste may sound like a victimless crime, but to the businesses missing out on the income generated by their recyclable waste, not to mention the recycling companies who are legitimately scheduled to collect and process the waste bales; this is simply not the case.
Criminal activity such as this provides a very clear demonstration of the value of waste materials like cardboard and paper, making it clearer than ever before that these materials are a resource that should never end up in landfill sites.
Rising Returns & Increased Vigilance
For all of the businesses that are already using baling and compacting equipment as part of their waste management strategy, the increased value of bales is great news. There is however now be a need to pay closer attention to the collection element of your system, in order to protect your resources and make sure that it is your business and not the thieves who benefit from your green initiative.