In Turkey’s Van, scrap dealers pick PCs over metal waste for extra buck

As Turkey’s economy takes a downturn, Adem Örge, a scrap dealer in Van, has shifted focus from collecting scrap metal to testing and selling unused, obsolete, or broken computer parts to add extra income.

Kadir Cesur / Gazete Duvar

Scrap dealers are a common sight in Turkey’s streetscape, often seen with small trucks or handcarts sifting through garbage bins, going door-to-door to buy up scrap metals or plastics, which they sell to recycling facilities for a modest fee.

Similarly, Adem Örge, a scrap dealer for the past nine years, spent his days conducting early morning drives with his pick-up through the streets of Van, a Kurdish-majority city in eastern Turkey, in search of recyclables.

Adem Örge collects and sells computer parts in the eastern province of Van.

However, Örge recently added a new way to earn an extra buck, collecting and selling computer parts.

“I did not know how to use a computer properly before, but now I am an expert,” Örge told Gazete Duvar.

He explained that he used to sell hardware like RAM by weight but has since learned to test and sell individual components.

“I used to sell a kilo of RAM to a wholesaler for 100 liras. Then, I started to test these parts myself. I plug the collected parts into a computer, identify and separate the ones that work, and sell them to computer repairpersons,” Örge said.

“Instead of selling them for 100 liras per kilo, I now sell them to repairpersons for between 200 liras and 300 liras each, depending on the number of gigabytes.”

Örge credited a computer repairperson for giving him the idea and teaching him how to test computer hardware.

“One day, I went into a passageway to collect scrap and noticed parts in front of a computer repair shop. I bought those parts, and then we started to talk. He gave me the idea and taught me how to test the parts,” Örge said, adding that he has taught his friends how to do it.

As Turkey’s rampant inflation recently reached 75 percent annually, according to official numbers, second-hand parts have become vital for those who cannot afford new hardware, told Gürkan Özgür who buys, sells, and repairs second-hand computers in Van, to Gazete Duvar.

“People with low income and students cannot afford new parts. Sometimes scrap dealers come to the shop, and we give them non-working parts as scrap. If they have working parts, we buy them at affordable prices,” Özgür said, adding that they do not sell second-hand data storage units due to security concerns.

(English version by Wouter Massink)