California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Reuse Organization Profiles

The Scrap Exchange


The mission of the Scrap Exchange, a nonprofit organization, is to promote reuse through arts, environmental education, and community. The Scrap Exchange collects and distributes selected discards from business and industry for creative reuse by individuals and groups through its retail operations, "Events by the Truckload" program (a creative hands-on program that travels throughout the southeast and serves large fairs and festivals), and workshops for in-school and after-school programs. The organization's goals include heightening awareness of environmental issues and promoting creativity.


The Scrap Exchange was established in 1991 in Durham, North Carolina as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization as a means of addressing the dual issues of industrial waste in local landfills and the need for inexpensive resource materials for people working in the arts and education. The Scrap Exchange was created based on a model previously established by the founder, Chris Rosenthal, and known in Australia as the Reverse Garbage Truck.


The Scrap Exchange is a creative reuse center that houses a retail store, workshop, and birthday party room, art gallery, office space, and warehouse. The center is located in a renovated downtown Durham tobacco warehouse, which incidentally promotes inner city development in an undervalued, underused area of Durham. The facility is 13,000 square feet, including working warehouse areas for preparing and packing materials for outside events and supplying the store and workshop space, where they also hold birthday parties. The Scrap Exchange conducts retail sales five days a week, along with outreach events in house and out seven days a week.

The Scrap Exchange conducts over 200 outreach events, workshops for schools, professional development workshops, school events, and birthday parties on and off site each year. Their outreach programs are typically facilitated by two staff members and who are supplied with at least 30 barrels of scrap materials, 12 containers of small scrap items, masking tape, scissors, and staplers. "Events by the Truckload" is a traveling program that provides fun hands-on events at festivals and other community gatherings serving thousands of people at each site throughout a six-state region. The Scrap Exchange conducts about 100 of these programs each year and tries to list them all on their web site. Workshops at their facility and family parties are not listed.

Materials Accepted Source of Materials Collection Services Geographic
Service Area
Clean, safe, reusable, industrial discards--everything from plastic foams to mylar, textiles, clean paper, unused lab equipment, and other new finished products. Also accepted are odds and ends such as buttons, game pieces, leftover ceramic tile, etc. from individuals. Household recyclables (egg cartons, yogurt containers, toilet paper rolls) are normally not accepted. About 250-300 industries and businesses donate materials at The Scrap Exchange's discretion, to ensure that they are safe, clean and reusable, and suitable for arts and educational programs that often involve children. These companies range from large industries such as textile mills, computer and biotechnology companies, retail manufacturers of packing materials, toys, textiles, and finished products (e.g., The Body Shop), to small businesses such as printers who have remaining reams of paper when a job is finished. The donated discards amount to 300 tons per year. The Scrap Exchange visits about ten to 30 companies per week, and about 250 different businesses each year. The Scrap Exchange supplies barrels or other containers and tries to provide them in appropriate locations on factory floors or near loading docks to make sorting easier for the company. Foam adds to the huge volume collected, but absolute weight is about 300 tons a year. The collection team approves all materials and schedules collections by appointment, or the drop off of delivered materials. The Scrap Exchange will travel within about a 50-mile radius to collect materials. Outreach programming travels to Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and throughout North Carolina.

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Last updated: May 23, 2014
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