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ISRI requests reinstatement of mutilated coin redemption program

The association says the suspension of the program has been a burden to scrap recyclers across the country.

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The Washington-based Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) is urging the U.S. government to reinstate its mutilated coin redemption program, which was suspended in 2019. The move comes from the U.S. Mint’s request for comments regarding proposed revisions related to the exchange of damaged coins, updates to the redemption rates and procedures and acceptance and processing of bent and partial U.S. coins.

In its comments, which were sent to the U.S. Mint July 6, ISRI details the burden placed on recyclers when the program was suspended for a second time in 2019. The program previously was suspended in 2015.

ISRI also discusses the historical significance of recyclers recovering coins, which has become an integral part of many recycling companies’ operations, product mixes and bottom lines. 

“Shredding is the predominant method for recycling heavy steel‐bearing end-of-life products into commodity-grade products, including automobiles, appliances, coin-operated laundry machines and vending machines,” the statement says in part. “Shredding greatly improved recycling productivity with great benefits for environmental protection, natural resource conservation, manufacturing sustainability and reliability as well as worker safety.”

Additionally, ISRI’s comments highlight the potential dangers of the U.S. Mint’s proposal to prohibit the redemption of coins retrieved through the shredding process as it may drive some recyclers to return to less effective manual sorting and separation processes that unnecessarily increase the risks to workers.

“Without any indication that recyclers would not be eligible to redeem coins through this program, recyclers continue to collect coins from their shredding and downstream sorting and separation operations and now have over six years’ worth of mutilated coins stored at their facilities,” the statement says. “Accordingly, recyclers have lost significant revenues as a result of the program’s suspension.”

ISRI suggests two solutions to enable the U.S. Mint to continue accepting mutilated coins from recyclers and foreign sources. One of the solutions is a qualified redemption program that allows recyclers that demonstrate compliance with the Mint’s regulations to continue redeeming the value of mutilated coins collected over the years. The other recommendation is site inspections for recyclers to weed out any criminal activity such as fraud or intentionally damaging coins.