The Cities That Turn Old Cash into Power



There's one time — and it may be the only time — when you would want to see cash go up in flames. The Federal Reserve Bank in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco literally burn tons of paper money to power local homes and businesses. The program is important, because rather than sitting in a landfill, the currency shred is being recycled and turned into electricity, providing power to residents. Every month, 16 tons of currency are shredded. It’s money that’s been worn out and needs to be taken out of circulation. The life span for different bills varies from about 3½ years for $50 bills to 7½ years for $20s and 15 years for $100 bills. The shredded cash is then taken to an energy-from-waste plant, burned, and the steam generated from the process produces electricity enough to power 115 homes for a month. In Arizona, Phoenix follows the same process, turning the residue into home insulation.