Home Products Recycling Becoming a BIG Business

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Nick Swaggert, of Better Futures, said the work he and his company do has “saved 700 tons of building materials from going into the landfill.” (Photo: Elizabeth Flores, StarTribune)

The old ‘one man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ line is increasingly being recycled in the building materials field. The Minneapolis StarTribune reported earlier this week how an assortment of non- and for-profit companies are taking in and reselling kitchen parts (including cabinets, fridges, stoves and more), other types of cabinetry, bathroom fixtures, and even hardwood flooring that, for whatever reason, someone ones to replace.

Habitat for Humanity, which has 875 Habitat ReStore locations across the U.S., is able to build six homes with the income each store earns from goods either donated at the store or picked up, free of charge, from donors’ homes. One of their stores in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota is doing more than $1 million per year in sales, and a nearby store is targeted to do about as well in two or three years, the company’s senior manager of operations for the area told the paper.

Another company, Better Futures Minnesota, which opened a building materials warehouse a block away from the new ReStore, uses demolition crews to remove reusable building materials in homes throughout the Twin Cities. Revenue from the sale of deconstruction materials has nearly doubled since the move to the new location nine months ago. The company provides housing and employment to men recently incarcerated. “We’ve saved 700 tons of building materials from going into the landfill,” said Nick Swaggert, vice president of business development and operations for Better Futures.

Two trends are aiding growth in this segment of the recycling field: The age of many homes – in the neighborhood of 40 years in the Twin Cities (and 30+ years, nationally)– and the inability of many Millennials to buy new many of the items they want to put into their homes. And with pricing in the home materials recycling stores being generally 50-90% less than such large new products outlets as Home Depot and Loews, the business of putting old things back into circulation, and use, is proving to be a serious winner!

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