Homeless Hit by Aluminium Price Drop
Created: 2008-12-26 08:08 EST
Homeless people in Japan are feeling the pinch because of problems with the U.S. car industry. With less cars being made, the need for metals like aluminum has meant the price has tumbled. And this means less cash for those eking a living on the streets in Japan.
These are the homeless people who bike around Kawasaki City, just south of Tokyo. Every morning they snatch discarded cans left outside residences before the garbage trucks arrive.
Piling up bags of cans on top of their bicycles, these can collectors take their haul to aluminum recycling factories to cash them out.
56-year-old Kazutoshi Kimura spends almost 10 hours every day on the road. He collects over 20,000 cans and bikes miles to trade them for cash. But now he receives less than half of what the payouts were just two months ago.
[Kazutoshi Kimura, Can Collector]:
"Before I would get about 4,000 yen for the cans I collected each day and I would work four days a week. But now, I have to work every day to survive because I only get 1,600 yen for the same amount of cans."
Japan recycles more than 90 percent of aluminum cans… one of the highest recycling rates in the world.
But the falling prices could discourage recycling of the used cans.
[Noritaka Akura, Director, Japan Can]:
"I believe people will continue recycling aluminum cans, but with the prices falling this low, people may get less motivated to do so. That's what we worry about."
About 50 percent of Japan's total aluminum consumption goes to auto parts productions.