Philadelphia literally burns old money for electricity

Illustration for article titled Philadelphia literally burns old money for electricity

What happens to old paper money that's too worn out to be used? It's often recycled and made into everything from dog beds to packing materials. But the Philadelphia Federal Reserve office does something even more unique: They send the old currency to local power plants, where it's burned for electricity.


Yes, Philadelphia is literally burning money to keep the lights on. And that's a good thing! They used to just shred it and send it to landfills, letting all that energy go to waste.

The Federal Reserve has made tremendous progress with their recycling program in recent years. In 2009 just 30 percent of discarded paper currency in the U.S. was recycled. Today roughly 94 percent is recycled. That's about 4,900 tons worth of money per year.

"Rather than just sitting in a landfill, it's producing electricity for residents in the Delaware Valley, here in our district," an official at the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia proudly told the Wall Street Journal.

Other municipalities around the country have similar currency incineration programs, including Los Angeles County, where they burn as much as 500 tons of money per year. I suppose the image of burning money is a good reminder to turn the lights off when you leave a room. Your dollar bills are literally going up in smoke. [Wall Street Journal]

Image: 2013 file photo of uncut $100 bills

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I wonder what is to keep the power plant workers from taking the money home? Hopefully it is shredded or something first.