In the US, the scrap business is not really popular, making it easy for people in the industry to earn enough income to support themselves.
Jeanett Pilatacsi (38 years old) and members are New York junkers. Every day they pick up thousands of abandoned plastic items, each box is worth about 5 cents (~ 147 VND). On good days, the Pilatacsi family member can pick up up to 20,000 tubes, bringing in a profit of up to $1,000 (~ VND 23.6 million).
According to Ryan Castalia, CEO of scrap collection center Sure We Can, an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 New Yorkers make money similar to the Pilatacsi family. Last month, the US media was also buzzing with the news that Lisa Fiekowsky had become a millionaire by collecting cans and bottles in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Ray del Carmen, who lives in Brooklyn and now works as a manager at Sure We Can, says it’s not hard for New York can pickers to make a profit. Sometimes he even helps his girlfriend, who specializes in picking up cans for a living. He said on a holiday, he worked from 2pm to 4am and earned $800.
According to Jeanett Pilatacsi, scrap metal is a self-respecting and well-paid profession: “This is better than my old job at the candle factory. Back then I had to work long hours and the pay was too little. Now, me and my family, we work together, from noon to 8 pm, collecting canned goods until the truck is full.”
Sometimes the Pilatacsi family also had to “work overtime”. They will be out on the street from 1:00 – 2:00 a.m. to collect bottles and cans before the bar closes.
The Pilatacsi family consists of 12 members living together in a house in the Rego Park area. Jeanett Pilatacsi says the scrap income is enough for them to cover all their bills. When they’re not working, they eat together, help raise their daughters, and share the thousands of dollars in weekly earnings.
Meanwhile, for Mario Palonci, a 70-year-old immigrant from the Czech Republic, junkyards have become his lifeline.
From being an alcoholic, he focused on this profession and earned about 2,000 cans a night. In addition to bringing money, the work also helps Mr. Palonci to be respected. The owners of the bar where Mr. Palonci works take the initiative to greet him every time he arrives.
Josefa Marin (53 years old) is also a professional junkyard practitioner. Previously, she worked for a clothing factory and a shop. However, after being laid off, she switched to picking up discarded canned goods to make ends meet.
Marin is satisfied with her current job because she has time autonomy. Together with new husband Pedro Romero, the two pick up about 5,000 cans a day – equivalent to 325 USD (~ 7.7 million VND).
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