As long as human beings have occupied this world, they have been generating garbage.
Garbage is one of the fundamental problems faced by the United States as well as every other country in the world.
Solving the problems of drinkable water, disposal of human and animal bodily waste, clean air, and where and how to get rid of the garbage are the critical challenges in the 21st century.
While the fundamental garbage problem is growing mind boggling amount, it also represents a fundamental investment opportunity.
In just the United States, the physical amount of garbage is hard to comprehend just from the data.
Think of it this way. If you lined up the average size garbage truck end to end, the line would extend from Los Angeles to New York. A hundred times.
With all the political talk regarding foreign and domestic oil and gas production, alternative energy, garbage is not in the forefront of the conflicts.
The solid waste portion of the garbage industry already produces over half of the United States' renewable energy. Solar, geothermal, hydroelectric, and wind power all need government to support the financial losses. The garbage industry, while heavily regulated, is effectively a private industry generating profits.
Garbage should be looked as a source of materials that is, quite literally, sustainable. It is a problem that is turned into a solution.
Effectively, it is never ending source that is collected every day from an American population which readily accepts that everything they buy is disposable or otherwise obsolete as soon as it's bought.
More than just a sustainable source of materials, garbage is a constant source of revenues.
The garbage stream is a controlled source. As such, the collection and carting away trash and garbage is itself a profitable business.
However, recovering specific materials in the trash and garbage is even more valuable.
Even the waste gases generated by decomposing garbage in landfills make money.
Waste gases cut reliance on traditional fuels for generation of electricity to heat and cool commercial buildings, factories, and housing. And the gases can be converted to specialty chemicals and lots of other things like synthetic crude oil.
Then comes the recovery from the garbage itself. For example, there are likely a couple of hundred million tires in storage. A huge source of oil. The lead and other materials in batteries have no end of eager buyers.
Aluminum, glass, plastic, wood, yard waste, food scraps, carpet, paper, packaging, the vast amount of debris from tornados, hurricanes, floods, and all the other "stuff" that people, business, industry, and government throw away are just more grist for the garbage mill.
Garbage equipment, service companies, research and innovation companies, and insurance to name but a few related profits making enterprises that represent another aspect of garbage investing.
How about investing in companies that manufacture garbage trucks and specialty vehicles?
Government agencies are requiring higher standards for truck emissions, and more efficient fuel usage. Costs of vehicle production are rising just like everything else in the transportation industry. A new garbage truck can cost more than $250,000.
Then there are the necessary truck and other vehicle expenses for fuel, lubrication, and maintenance. Somebody is supplying those services and getting paid for it.
Investment opportunities abound. Collection and disposal of consumer, commercial and industrial waste, recycling and energy generation are growth businesses.
It sure seems to me, as a matter of common sense, that the garbage industry is a lower profile investment that does not appear to be co-related to the other investment markets.
Trash may be garbage, but garbage is money.
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