We Throw Out a Massive Number of Coins Each Year

And one company is scooping them up by the millions
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 20, 2024 10:00 AM CDT
We Throw Out a Shocking Number of Coins Each Year
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/dndavis)

Americans' coins don't just end up between the couch cushions. They also land in the trash, in great quantities, a fact that sustainable-waste processing company Reworld is taking advantage of. The Wall Street Journal profiles the company's now-seven-year effort to retrieve coins from our waste. "At a waste-management facility in Morrisville, Pa., workers load incinerated trash into industrial machinery that separates and sorts metals, then sends them to get hosed down," the paper describes. Buckets of sorted coins result, to the tune of some $10 million in coins since Reworld started looking for change in 2017—a fraction of the estimated $68 million in coins Americans toss annually.

Reworld began doing so after seeing more and more coins in the trash, where it recovers other metals such as pipes and silverware as part of its main function, which is running incineration facilities that convert trash into fuel. As such, the coins it ends up with have all been incinerated first, so about $4 million of what it has found so far has been unusable. A quirky side note: The company's employees pluck out buffalo nickels, which were made between 1913 and 1938 and can be worth thousands. "As a child I used to get excited about buffalo nickels, I thought they were rare," said the operations supervisor at a Reworld facility. "Here we have jars and jars of buffalo nickels." (Read the full story at the Journal, which also digs into how and why coins have fallen out of favor.)

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