A Redditor sparked an important conversation recently by sharing a photo of waste from their job.
“We throw these out daily, sometimes 5x the amount shown in picture,” they continued. “Should i save them up and sell them on ebay? Should i scrap it? Any ideas let me know.”
“It just bugs me out that we throw these away, like there has to be something i can do,” they added in the comments, noting the waste came “from registers I open”; the company provided a bucket of the fasteners so employees “can get a handful” for their tool pouches.
The construction industry is notoriously wasteful, generating 2.2 billion tons of trash annually, though it’s debatable whether these screws are typical HVAC refuse. The company could solve the frustrating problem by stopping its practice of doubling up on inventory and advising its employees to put the packaged items to use.
The manufacturer, however, may be better positioned to stop what is more damaging: the practice of deploying plastic to envelop materials. Of course, it makes sense that registers come with screws so they can be installed correctly and safely, but it seems unnecessary that they be wrapped in toxic packaging.
Unpackaged screws, for example, could be as easily recycled as drywall or sheetrock. Screws can be recycled as scrap metal, depending on their material. This would keep waste out of landfills and incinerators, preserve natural resources, reduce energy used for manufacturing, and save money.
“Without recycling screws, there is a risk of increased air and water pollution,” according to Cohen Recycling. “The production of new screws requires the extraction of raw materials such as steel and aluminum, which can be damaging to the environment if not done responsibly. Additionally, manufacturing processes also release pollutants that may have an adverse impact on local ecosystems.”
Still, they should not be put in recycling bins since that could damage machinery — the best bet is to take them to a scrapyard recycler.
“I keep steel scrap to sell,” one commenter wrote. “I have been on jobs where packets of screws weren’t needed. They all went in a scrap bucket. Free money. One minor issue is that the scrap yards around me won’t take less than 100 pounds of steel at a time. So I have to fill multiple buckets.”
Another said: “Take them out of all that f****** plastic, recycle the plastic and keep the screws somewhere in the garage. Reduce, reuse, recycle? What a waste no wonder the planet is dying. A plastic packet for every 2 screws? Pretty silly.”
Join our free newsletter for easy tips to save more, waste less, and help yourself while helping the planet.