Dump Stories and the Recycling Pioneers Archive Project

Date: 15 Jul 2019 | posted in: Waste to Wealth | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Urban Ore is a material recovery enterprise that began in 1980 as a scavenging organization at the Berkeley dump, three years before the balefill closed forever. Urban Ore had no capital and no financial support; just permission to salvage and sell whatever could be saved from the landfill compactors. One year after its founding, Urban Ore opened its first outpost on commercial land and called it the Urban Ore Building Materials Exchange. After many West Berkeley moves, Urban Ore purchased three acres of land with four buildings. Currently 42 staff work in two retail divisions with four more divisions in support roles. Before founding Urban Ore, Dr. Knapp served for two years as a professor of sociology at the University of Oregon, and for six years as a professor of Work, Culture, and Society at what became University of Illinois, Springfield campus.

Dan Knapp wrote these “Dump Stories” in about 1980, while part of the scavenging crew. They reflect the early thinking, insight and motivation of the US early recycling movement. They are being added to the Recycling Archives Project.

The Recycling Archives Project, initiated by Urban Ore and ILSR, has collected scores of interviews with pioneer recyclers throughout the U.S. These have been curated by Knapp, Mary Lou Van Deventer, Urban Ore, Susan Kinsella, Conservatree, and Wynne Coplea, sustainability instructor at  Lincoln Land Community College. The interviews reveal the backgrounds, motivations and goals of the citizen activists who changed the face of waste in the U.S. The Archives are held at the University of Illinois at Springfield and at Urban Ore in Berkeley, Calif.

Read “Dump Stories” and excerpts from the Recycling Pioneers Archives Project:

Dump Stories

Excerpts from Recycling Pioneers Archives Project


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Neil Seldman

Neil Seldman, Ph.D, directs the Recycling and Economic Growth Initiative. He specializes in helping cities and businesses recover increasing amounts of materials from the waste stream and add value to the local economy through new processing and manufacturing facilities. He is a co-founder of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and is a member of ILSR's Board of Directors.