Pat Acton holds pieces of brass which have been sorted into the proper bucket by volunteers. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

Habitat for Humanity works to keep metal out of the landfill

Broken appliances are stripped down by volunteers and the sorted metal is recycled

Accepting and reselling good furniture, housewares and building materials is what Habitat for Humanity ReStores do best, but there is even more going on behind the scenes.

In an effort to divert as much waste as possible from the landfills, donated broken appliances are stripped down and the metal is recycled, thanks to a partnership with ABC Recycling in Campbell River.

“We test [the appliance] and if it isn’t suitable, … we’ll take the value off it,” said Patrick Acton, yard associate and truck driver with the Courtenay Restore.

Gesturing to a row of meticulously labelled bins lined up inside a sea can, he explained that volunteers work to remove and sort metals, like brass, copper, aluminum and stainless steel, to be sent up to Campbell River for a profit. The sorting is key because anything that is improperly categorized will downgrade the load and bring in less money for the ReStore.

Dave Miller, Vancouver Island regional general manager for ABC Recycling, said the business has been partnering with Habitat for Humanity for three years and has provided training to ReStore volunteers to help them sort the metals properly.

“In the beginning, they were just throwing it all in one bin, so not getting all the value for the material,” he said. “So now with the training of all the people, they are actually pulling all the copper wire, aluminum, copper, brass and all that kind of stuff out which is worth a lot more than just a hot water tank.”

In the Courtenay store, up to 10 volunteers work on recycling metal, and between the Courtenay and Campbell River locations, 336 tons of waste was diverted from the landfill in 2018. Recycling metal also brought in over $57,000 to the two locations.

“If there’s something more responsible we can do, we try to do that,” said Debbie Bowman, Courtenay ReStore manager. “This is all stuff that could easily end up in the landfill. If someone has a fridge that doesn’t work, they might as well bring it here. It gets recycled and they’re supporting Habitat for Humanity.”

Donations can be dropped off for free during regular store hours at 1755 13th Street in Courtenay. Habitat for Humanity will also pick up appliances at a cost of $40.


Donated broken appliances are stripped down by volunteers and the metal is sorted into various buckets and bins by volunteers. The metal is then sent to ABC Recycling in Campbell River for a profit. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

Volunteers spend lots of time stripping metal off old appliances and sorting it. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela Volunteers spend lots of time stripping metal off old appliances and sorting it. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

Appliances can be dropped off at the ReStore for free or can be picked up by Habitat for Humanity for a $40 fee. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

Patrick Acton is the yard associate and truck driver with Courtenay Habitat for Humanity ReStore and has been leading the metal recycling program at the shop. Photo by Jolene Rudisuela

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