Freeman Cebu Business

Finding cash from trash

Carlo S. Lorenciana - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Everyday people produce and throw away tons of trash out of their houses and other establishments and as the saying goes “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”, other people actually rely on these trash to earn a living.

Deemed as a “dirty business,” but junk shop and scrap trading has been helping garbage collectors and traders themselves to find a good and stable source of income. These junk shop entrepreneurs are living proofs of another adage that says “true money is in the trash.”

Buy and sell

Junk shop trading is a buy and sell business in which a junk shop owner buys scrap items at specified costs from garbage collectors, community residents and even local firms.

The owner then sells the sorted and segregated junk materials to a certain recycling center or plant.

A small junk shop owner in barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City shared to The FREEMAN how she started and got the idea of turning what other people think as waste materials into money.

“Nibisita to akong amiga nga junk shop owner sa among balay ug nakakita siya nga daghan kaayong mga botilya ug way gamit nga mga plastics,” (When my friend, who is a junk shop owner, visited me one day, she saw these empty bottles and plastics in my house) 47-year-old Fredelita M. Punay recalled as it happened seven years ago, adding that her friend asked her to collate all the recyclable materials and bring it to her shop.

And so she did and from it, she earned P600 from the first items she sold, making her realize that she could actually venture into the same business.

She said one of her children who was working abroad sent P3,000 that she could use as startup capital to buy scraps from her neighbors and even relatives.

“Wa nahurot ang kwarta sa usa lang ka adlaw,” she noted. “Magsugod man gyod ka sa gamay, hinay-hinay hangtod nga daghan nang tawo ang nakahibawo nga mamalit ko og mga basura.”  (I was not able to use up my capital for one day. I really had to start small until slowly a lot of people learned that I was buying scraps.)

Punay family’s junk shop receives assorted scrap materials everyday from small time scavengers who collect garbage at nearby residences bringing wooden pushcarts with them.

However, junks can come from a number of sources such as barangay homeowners who also intend to sell their unused things to the shop.

These various scraps include plastics, glass bottles, newspapers, used cartons, tin cans, stainless, bronze (brass and copper), aluminum, rubber, used and busted appliances, metals and other things which no longer have any use for.

Punay buys tin cans at P4 per kilo; plastic bottles at P10 a kilo; brass bronze at P140 a kilo; copper bronze at P210 a kilo; aluminum at P45 per kilo; metals at P8 a kilo; and newspapers at P3 per kilo.

She then sorts, segregates and puts the scrap items into the designated sacks so it would be ready as soon as the junk truck of her friend who is also a scrap trader arrives at her shop at the end of the day.

“Makagasto gud ko more than P1,000--kinagamyan P800--sa pagpamalit.” (I usually spend P1,000 ---- P800 the least, to buy scraps daily), Punay said.

The revenue she gets, she added, would depend on the volume and the kind of items to be picked up and sold. For instance, it means bigger returns if she sells more bronze which she can get from her customers by paying P140 or P210 per kilo and sell it at P160 or P245, for brass and copper type respectively.

In Punay’s case, she does not directly transport her junk pieces to big recycling centers in Metro Cebu area because her family does not have a delivery truck. 

The delivery of the materials affects the price, a reason for her friend to separately increase the rates of the junks when these are eventually sold to a recycling plant in Mandaue City.

“Mga batan-on ang kasagaran nakong mga customer ilabi na kadtong mga nangita ipalit og bugas,” the scrap business owner said. “Dako gyod siya natabang di lang namo ug sa collectors, apil na sab sa environment kay mahipos man gyod ang mga basura.”

Junks help people

A 12-year-old elementary student Angelito Arellano of the same barangay revealed to The FREEMAN how his collecting and selling of unused plastics and cans at the neighborhood help his financial needs everyday.

“Sa usa ka semana makapatimbang ko kaduha unya kada timbang makahalin ko og P50,” the kid smiled. “Gamiton ni nako palit og pagkaon, at least kung way kwarta si mama naa koy magasto.” (I can sell scrap twice a week and I earn P50 from it. I use the money to buy food, at least I have something to spend if my mother doesn’t have any.)

Arellano and other trash collectors said they like to gather junk in subdivisions because most of the wastes in these areas can still be used.

In the junk shop business, Punay said it is important to be patient all the time because owners like her normally encounter different types of customers.

The shop should be located in an area accessible to cars and sidecars, she said. For the past seven years that she has been in the business, Punay said it has helped her family with their daily expenses and other needs.

She urged people to start segregating their trash and never hesitate to sell these to junk shops not just to earn but also to help the environment. (FREEMAN)











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