Old, worn-out paper money still has some value in Philadelphia, where it’s being burned for electricity. The Philadelphia Federal Reserve is making great strides in an effort to keep old dollar bills out of landfills, and this move is helping to increase recycling efforts even more. The bonus benefit of “free” energy is just icing on the cake.
Once it’s no longer burning a hole in your pocket, there are a great many purposes for old cash. It all gets shredded and is then transformed into mulch, compost, fuel pellets, toothbrushes, and even house insulation. Burning dollars for electricity is yet another avenue that many municipalities are experimenting with, particularly because of the need for economical sources of energy.
In Philadelphia, as in many other cities, worn-out dollar bills are transferred to various power plants where they incinerate the currency to create electricity. That electricity is then used by local residents, completing the circle.
This is part of a larger effort to increase the rate of recycling for cash that’s no longer in circulation. In 2009, only 30 percent of old money was recycled. With new strategies like this one, the rate is currently over 90 percent, which equates to almost 4900 tons of paper money each year. Philadelphia is not the only U.S. city that burns money, though: many other counties, including Los Angeles, have a similar program in place.