A Dollar Frayed Is A Dollar Recycled

Paper money, like the mortals who spend it, doesn't last. After 18 months, $1 bills are too frayed for general circulation. A fin is around for just two years. And $20 greenbacks? Three to four years. The feds dispose of 7,000 tons of worn-out bucks annually. And it costs big bucks, the still-in-use kind, to shred bills, pack them into bricks, then dump them in landfills.

Several Southern California companies have a novel use for all that spent cash: recycling it into everything from stationery to fiberboard used in walls during construction. In the white fiberboard made by Gridcore Systems International in Carlsbad, you can see pieces of dollars. Terra Roofing in Fontana makes roof shingles, while others produce fireplace logs, for buyers with money to burn.

First, the government shreds the bills into long strips that resemble greenish angel-hair pasta. But the companies don't have to pay for the raw material other than to haul it away. You might object that, once again, Uncle Sucker is giving away money and getting zero in return. Well, at least there's an environmental benefit: more room in landfills.

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