Recycling is Hot
Recycling costs a lot of money, and traditionally the sale of the materials picked up didn't come close to covering the cost of picking up the goods. Then the boom times came to Asia and the price of scrap metal, paper and cardboard skyrocketed as it was shipped to the mills in China and India. Suddenly it became a business.
And a target; in New York, paper collection tonnage is down 25% and scrap metal, $250 per ton, doesn't hang around long either. (It's not just New York; we recently put an old gas barbecue out for pickup and it was gone in minutes.)
Economist Ted Siegler told the New York Times that theft of recyclables had been increasing across the country, with thieves even plucking steel manhole covers from streets. But Manhattan is a special case. "It has so much sitting on the curb in a congested area, and nobody has to go far to find a broker," he said. ::New York Times