Sweeper Brushes as Backscratchers? An Unusual Market for a Common Product

Damon Carson isn’t into titles, “President, CEO, Founder—I just try to make a go of it and do what I do.” The title of his company, however, says it all: Repurposed Materials, Inc. Through Repurposed Materials, which is based in Denver, Colorado, Carson rescues parts, materials and equipment in perfectly fine condition that industries no longer need from the landfill and sells them to people who find creative uses for excess. His company sells everything from billboard advertisements used as tarps, conveyor belts used for construction mats and truck bed liners, and even rubber snow plow edging is repurposed as boat dock bumpers and steel pipe racking. And Carson is always looking for new ideas and byproducts that can be repurposed. “The best ideas come from my customers,” Carson says.

Case in point: earlier this spring, Carson received a phone call from a girl who asked, “Do you have any street sweeper brooms?” Carson’s immediate response was, “What in the world would you use those for?”

There are few things worse than having an itch you can’t scratch, and the girl explained to Carson that she uses the recycled brushes as backscratchers for her livestock. In addition to providing the animals with relief, the recycled brushes also keep them away from ruining fences and trees to satisfy their itch. Carson made a couple of calls, and he now has three sources—two near-by cities and a private company—that supply him with sweeper brushes that have been retired from use. “These things just sell,” Carson says.

In fact, the brushes sell so well that Carson’s supply is currently out of stock, and he’s looking for more. “We need more sources,” Carson says, “Repurposed Materials, Inc. wants your brushes.” He is looking primarily for tube and barrel brushes and says that he will handle the logistics of getting them into his possession, so there is little effort on the part of anyone who wishes to hand over their sweeper brushes. Carson picks them up and sells them, as is, to people like dairy farmers and ranchers. It is up to the end user to fabricate them to fit their livestock’s backscratching needs.

“It’s a good repurpose,” he says. What’s otherwise junk to street sweepers becomes a source of relief for livestock. The brushes are a good green byproduct and giving them to farmers, ranchers and the like acts as a diversion from them ending up in a landfill, which is never a bad thing.

Carson is, perhaps, balancing out his karma. Before Repurposed Materials, Inc., he was hauling garbage to the landfill. Now he’s trying to keep materials out of it. He began his career working in the garbage hauling industry and says about his job now, “I call this my second foray into the waste stream of America.”

He would love to expand beyond his home state of Colorado and believes that the market is there. He just needs to get the word out and make sure companies and sources know that the effort would be minimal on their part. He says, “I would love, love, love for my phone to ring.”

Damon Carson can be reached at 303.478.6193 or visit www.repurposedmaterialsinc.com for more information.

Story by Jade Acadia