This has to be one of the most innovative recycling projects in the world. Last Monday morning, Sheriff Lee Baca at the Los Angeles County Sheriff's headquarters announced that 8,300 seized firearms had been destroyed. The following morning they were converted into steel reinforcing bars, also known as rebar, to be used for upgrades to freeways and bridges in California, Nevada and Arizona.
The unique recycling program has flown under the radar outside of Los Angeles but not because it is new -- the "Project Isaiah' program that entails the recycling of thousands of seized firearms has has been in place since 1993. CalRecycle writes:
"Every year the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department confiscates thousands of firearms. State law (Penal Code section 12028) requires law enforcement agencies to destroy these weapons in July of each year. In 1993 the County partnered with TAMCO Steel, the only steel mill in California, and initiated "Project Isaiah," a gun collection and recycling effort aimed at converting seized weapons into useful products for the community.
The project takes its name from the biblical passage that says "They shall beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks." TAMCO says the modern day version of the verse would read: "They shall melt their guns and weapons into reinforcing bar and build a community for all to live in peace and harmony."
Thousands of firearms are destroyed every year and hundreds of thousands of pounds of material from those firearms have been recycled into rebar. And according to CalRecycle, firearms are an excellent feedstock for rebar due to their high nickel and chrome content.
The repair of earthquake-damaged freeways in Northern and Southern California, the Staples Center arena in downtown Los Angeles, and the Alameda Corridor Project have all made use of the recycled rebar with the checkered past.