On one of my trips to Pakistan I visited Asia’s largest scrap market, located in Lahore. It’s called Misri Shah
of this city of 10 million people. It was an unforgettable experience for me. There are several thousand merchants in an area with a circumference of about 2 km. For someone from the West like me, it appears to be a complete inferno here. The roads are narrow so two cars have difficulty when they meet. The small workshop owner comes here with a donkey and cart, while others arrive with wheelbarrows. The traffic flows reasonably until a large truck enters the site, which happens frequently. There is chaos for about 20 minutes but then everything goes back to normal. I get a bit nervous when the car I am in meets a small truck with ten tons of sheet metal on the back, two metres wide, secured with just a rope round the bottom.
Most of the businesses here sell used parts brought in by large importers of scrap steel. A lot of material has been smuggled in from Afghanistan. This purchased scrap is sorted and processed. It’s the most genuine form of recycling you’ll ever see, although it does look rather pathetic to see men beating small pieces of steel to make them marketable. A lot of people have been killed over the years disarming military scrap from war-torn Afghanistan.
Some steel mills have sales depots on the site. They bring in 12 metres of reinforcement iron, for example, and cut it up into small pieces to sell it. Everything is done by hand. There are no trucks or cranes. At one of the bigger companies I am given an honourable welcome by one of the uniformed guards outside the door, who comes to attention with his machine gun and salutes me.
Following an intensive day it’s nice to go back to the hotel in the city. The uniformed guard remembers me so this time I don’t need to pass through the metal detector.
Per Malmer, chairman of the board