COAST CITIES — A one man army, Joe Porras wrangles metals, bags of cans and other recyclable goods five to six days a week with the aim of turning a profit. In Porras’ words it’s not “glamorous at all.”
But with a lot of sweat and determination, Porras has turned the venture into a growing business.
“It’s a lot of hard work, but I’m proud that I’m doing right by the community and making a buck,” said Porras, who launched the Green Pick-Up in the spring.
The concept is simple: Porras provides businesses and nonprofits with empty recycling containers. At no charge, he picks them up on a regular basis, throws them in his large truck and drops off the contents at a recycling center.
The idea for a free recycling business came to Porris when he was placing plastic into a bin outside his Oceanside home a while back. He realized there could be money in recycling if done on a larger scale. An electrician by trade, he weighed whether to start the Green Pick-Up, a decision made all the more difficult by tough economic times.
“I had a job,” Porris said. “I was making a weekly check, but I knew I wasn’t happy. I had high blood pressure and wanted to do something about it.
“This seemed to be something where I could help out all kinds of people, and at the same time get healthy and set my own schedule and see my family more,” added Porris, who lives with his wife and daughter. Porris eventually cast his self-doubt aside and pursued the idea full time.
He purchased a truck, insurance and other necessities that come with forming a new business. It was a “leap of faith” that’s paid off so far. Porris said the favorite part of his new gig is that that he can pick his daughter up from middle school.
Lately, aluminum as well as plastic and glass bottles have brought the highest rates of return, Porris noted. Because the price of metals fluctuates, beverage containers that generate California Refund Value are the most dependable source of income.
Porris recovers a variety of other recyclable goods from clients ranging from auto parts stores to machine shops across North County. His largest client is FCCSB (Friends of Cardiff and Carlsbad State Beaches), a nonprofit that cleans up trash and beautifies local beaches through different means.
Bill Mahoney, founding board member of FCCSB, said the weight of recyclable materials being recovered by the parks went up by five times due to Porras. The big increase comes mainly because Porras spearheaded glass recycling at the parks. Before Porras, recycling glass was difficult because it’s heavy and there are liability issues with volunteers handling it, Mahoney said.
“This is a mutually beneficial agreement,” Mahoney said. “The campgrounds are cleaner and Joe has the opportunity to build his business.”
While overlooking the ocean from the Cardiff campgrounds, Porris noted he grew up surfing in Encinitas. So boosting recycling at the beaches and campgrounds has proved rewarding.
“Nothing fancy about what I’m doing; it’s good, clean work,” Porras said.