Scrap! was produced by one of the Bell System's smaller subsidiaries, Nassau Smelting and Refining. Nassau, located on Staten Island, was where, since 1931, Western Electric had recycled copper and other metals. As the Bell System was the largest consumer of copper in the United States at the time, it made sense that the company would also operate recycling facilities.
In 1974, most of the 453,000 tons of copper recovered from scrap in the United States happened because of the Bell System. With the advent of lightwave (fiber optic) cable in the 1980s, copper was no longer as crucial to the workings of the network. The company's use decreased while the entire country's copper use nearly flatlined.
453,000 tons of copper recovered from scrap
2,194,000 tons of copper consumed in the U.S.
774,000 tons of copper recovered from scrap
2,420,000 tons of copper consumed in the U.S.
Western Electric moved recycling operations to the Carolinas in the late '70s; the plant was operated by Lucent Technologies from 1996 to 2001.
Produced by Bob Perry, Bruce Finley and William Fitzgerald
Music by Steve Covello
Footage courtesy of AT&T Archives and History Center, Warren, NJ