They probably made a lot more money selling hot beef sandwiches at the park during North Mankato Fun Days this year, but for the Boy Scouts the annual job of collecting aluminum cans at the end of the Fun Days parade was likely more lucrative than it has been in the past. For about eight years now, Troop 29 has brought up the tail of the parade. After all the fun is over, its members encourage spectators to toss their aluminum cans into a big basket towed behind a pickup truck.
"We put a basketball hoop on the trailer," said Duane Rader, a scout leader who helps organize the troop's parade presence each year. "Everybody loves to shoot at that."
At 65 cents a pound locally, or nearly two cents per can, aluminum can prices are at an average high for the past five years. That's making the trip to can recycling centers more profitable for people who save their pop and beer containers instead of throwing them in the garbage. It also provides an incentive for Fun Days organizers to encourage vendors to sell beer and soft drinks in cans instead of plastic bottles, said Denny Kemp, Fun Days organizer.
Aluminum cans are more likely to be cleaned up at the end of the weekend because they're worth money, he said. That means lower profit margins for vendors, but less work for cleaning crews.
"We've chosen to go with aluminum cans because they're self cleaning," Kemp said. "It's a much tidier way to handle it."
Troop 29 also collects cans throughout the year at five donation points in Mankato and North Mankato. Troop members take turns each week collecting the cans and turning them in for cash. They get to keep 25 percent of what they make, which amounted to about $25 for last week's can collector, to buy scout supplies.