WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 25, 2012, 09:13 PM

Jamestown man serious about going green

Jamestown, ND (WDAY TV) - A Jamestown man is serious about going green, taking recycling to the max.

Jamestown, ND (WDAY TV) - A Jamestown man is serious about going green, taking recycling to the max. He breaks down everything from filing cabinets to electronics, anything he pulls from people's trash and turns it into a eco-friendly profit.

Francis Silbernagel - Avid Recycler: "Well it's all recyclable."

Back behind the boxes, bins, and bags brimming full of junk, Francis Silbernagel is finding the wealth in this discarded waste.

Francis Silbernagel: "I'd rather not see it out in the dump, a lot of this stuff leeches out, get into our water table, what will it be like for our grand kids."

Silbernagel takes in trash from the community - 18 truck-loads at the last clean-up week, breaks it down

Francis Silbernagel: "Well you got your plastic, metals."

And brings it all to the recycling center.

Francis Silbernagel: "It's so interesting, tearing stuff apart."

From steel, to aluminum, to plastic, it can be shocking just how much of your old junk you can recycle, especially electronics. By the time Silbernagel wrapped up this VHS player, hardly anything is left to waste."

Francis Silbernagel: "Plug in ends off, that's what goes in the garbage."

He started recycling at the High School -- he says drastically reducing the tons of trash tossed out. Now, his pastime is profitable. He says he gets about $150 a ton for steel.

Francis Silbernagel: "Me and the wife call it our fun money. This is what we use to go out to supper, go to the casino."

And the bits and pieces are welcome where he takes the trash, to Jamestown's Renaissance Recycling.

Francis Silbernagel: "Got number 3-7, this is number one, clear..."

Ralph Friebel – Renaissance Recycling: "We don't want any of that stuff in the landfill although in most communities in North Dakota they are still accepting it at the landfill."

This handy-man's hobby started as a way to keep busy.

Francis Silbernagel: "If I don't spend my time out here, I sit and watch TV in the house and the next thing I know, I'm sleepin."

Now, it's a full-time challenge for Silbernagel, taking recycling to a whole new level.

Silbernagel says he never cracked a book or browsed the internet. He learned it all by asking questions at the recycling center.