by A. Richard Miller
visits since 060217; last updated 160409.

So, you can't buy anything with a (copper) penny? Says who?

Paul Palmer (Zero Waste Institute) forwarded this TerraDaily article.

Researchers studying supplies of copper, zinc and other metals have
determined that these finite resources, even if recycled, may not
meet the needs of the global population forever, according to a study
published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Carling Brewery building on Lake Cochituate This reminds me of some local history. When Jill and I moved to Lake Cochituate in 1968, our big neighbor just west on Route 9 was Carling Brewery -- a Canadian beer company that built this state-of-the-art plant in 1956, during its rush on the U.S. beer market. "Hey Mabel, Black Label!", sang the radio ads, and they finished with,
"Made on the shores of beautiful Lake Cochituate!"

"We live on the only lake with a head on it!", we joked.

Carling's famous and conspicuous waterfall (an engineered re-aeration and cooling device for the cooling water that it drew from the hypolimnion of Middle Pond, then returned to the surface of the small Route-9 connector pond) lingers on.

I was the founding Executive Director of the Lake Cochituate Watershed Association, and our directors met monthly in Carling's executive cafeteria. That fancy lunchroom offered free, cold beer on tap. If you didn't get your work done in the first half hour, you probably wouldn't get it done that month. As a non-drinker, I wondered but managed to survive. And of course, I got the tour of Carling's four-story-high brewing vat, large heat exchangers and the rest:

Carling eventually stopped brewing beer in the USA. When it left Natick in 1975, its modern beer factory on beautiful Lake Cochituate became a "white elephant" -- too specialized and too expensive to renovate, so it was worthless on the real-estate market. Or so we heard, for years.

But about 1979, a company quietly bought the vacant property for a song. It used a wrecking ball to break a great hole into the four-story-high brick facade of the brewing section, disassembled and removed the huge vat plus various smaller ones and related plumbing, and made a huge profit -- on the vast quantity of scrap copper that others only saw as a white elephant!

The "useless" building gained more offices in that section, and went on to become the world corporate headquarters for Prime Computer, Inc., Boston Scientific Corp., and now for The Mathworks, Inc.

A 1950-vintage Moonshiner folk-song begins, "Get You A Copper Kettle." Perhaps that's why someone realized that that huge vat was not a white elephant -- but a copper-red one, nearly worth its weight in gold!

We must learn to recycle. And some of us will get rich, by figuring that out sooner than most.

Richard Clarke's history of Prime Computer, Inc. includes a later anecdote about the same building.