The ‘throwaway society’ is a bit of a cliché. But it’s one with a ring of truth to it. It’s all too easy to throw away perfectly useful things simply because we no longer want them or they’re cluttering up our homes.
Although we love dealing with the things people throw out, and ensuring it’s all managed as responsibly and sustainably as possible, we do sometimes end up thinking ‘I wonder why they threw that away?’
Sometimes the things found in waste have a significant value. Like, for example, a first edition hardback of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone recovered from a school skip. It sold at auction for £33,000.
Meet the Dumpster Divers
Some people make a living out of recovering stuff from skips. These are usually the commercial skips outside retail premises. The legality may be questionable but the rewards can be significant, showing just how much value gets discarded without much thought.
One person who routinely scavenges the skips and bins outside shops and distribution centres reported bagging £30,000 of beauty products, £100,000 of nail varnish and even iPhones and hard-drives.
Other valuable gems recovered from waste around the world include, quite literally, gems. $5m dollars worth of diamonds to be precise recovered from a bin by a security guard. No happy ending this time as he was arrested when he tried to sell them.
Lottery tickets, valuable violins and artworks have all found their way into waste streams after being carelessly or thoughtlessly discarded.
And spare a thought for hapless James Howells who threw away a computer hard drive, forgetting that it held the security keys to his bitcoin investments. These went on to reach a value of over £4m at their peak. The hard drive still lays undiscovered in a landfill site at Newport.
As a responsible waste handling firm, Wellington Waste will happily deliver a skip to your home and then take away all of your waste for processing. But maybe think twice about what you throw away. Even if it’s not worth as much as a Harry Potter first edition it might still be worth a few quid on an upcycling site.
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