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Winnipeg scrap recycler turning old cars into new homes

Urbanmine's Mark Chisick with Habitat for Humanity's Sandy Hopkins.
Urbanmine's Mark Chisick with Habitat for Humanity's Sandy Hopkins.

Urbanmine is a Winnipeg-based metal recycler who’s “Old Parts New Starts” project involves turning old cars into cash for homes which is donated to Habitat for Humanity. According to the company, the program will help get hundreds of old cars off the road every year, where they will be crushed at Urbanmine’s metal recycling facility in Winnipeg. The proceeds of the resulting metal sales will go to Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg, which will help the organization build more of their energy-efficient homes for families in need.

As the driving force behind the project to turn old cars into cash for Habitat, Urbanmine President Mark Chisick says the “Old Parts New Starts” program can help in the effort to lift families out of poverty.  

“Owning a home is an impossible dream for many. But when families have the opportunity to own a home it changes lives for generations to come. And, we want to be part of that change,” says Mark Chisick whose company will pass along 100 percent of the donated value of the recycled cars they receive through  the program to Winnipeg’s Habitat for Humanity. Habitat then issues a charitable receipt for the value of the vehicle to the owner who donated the car. Depending on metal prices and the weight of the car, this could amount to several hundred dollars or more per vehicle.  

“The idea is to crush at least 1,000 cars a year for Habitat. Ideally, we hope Manitobans will recycle enough cars to build a Habitat house in the first year of the program,” says Mark Chisick. “The goal is that the Old Parts New Starts program will create a steady income stream for Habitat for years to come,” he added.  

For Sandy Hopkins, Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg CEO, the Old Parts New Starts program is a win-win-win.  

“When Urbanmine first approached us with this idea we realized it could help reduce carbon emissions by getting old cars off the road, and the proceeds could help build more of our energy-efficient homes. It’s a win for the environment, for Habitat families and allows a lot of people to turn their old cars into new starts for Habitat families,” says Hopkins.  

Since 1987, Habitat for Humanity Winnipeg has built 179 homes for low-income working families and is presently building Phase II of the “greenest” affordable housing development in Canada, and the “greenest” housing development in the province. Home ownership affordability is offered through no down payment and interest free mortgages, with monthly payments geared to family income rather than property value. Plus, the energy and water efficiency of all these homes not only makes them environmentally friendly but also more affordable by reducing the daily living costs for low-income working families.  

Urbanmine recycles electronics, scrap metal and other waste material at its facility in South Winnipeg, where donors are assured their cars will be recycled responsibly. According to the company, they will not be making money on this program, and will even absorb the costs of crushing and shipping cars for at least the first year of the program. To donate an old car, citizens need simply bring their car into to Urbanmine’s location and sign a donation registry. Or the company will provide a tow. Urbanmine then notifies Habitat for Humanity of the weight of the donated car and the value of the metal, who then issues a charitable receipt for the value of the metal.