In Denmark, the city of Copenhagen has established a “dignified trash can program” in order to make life easier for bottle collectors.
Many people collect bottles so that they can return the drinking receptacles in order to make money. Before the program was put into place, they would have to dig through trash cans in order to find the bottles.
Some people are dependent upon these bottles, having no other source of income. People who dig through the garbage receptacles are often prone to being cut by sharp glass and being exposed to potentially toxic waste.
With the program, people who dispose of a bottle that can be returned for a small amount of money can instead place the bottle on a “deposit shelf”. This way, people going around collecting bottles can find them without having to dig through garbage.
According to Copenhagen Deputy Mayor Morten Kabell, the program is good for the city.
Kabell says, “The project keeps the city clean and at the same time (creates) a little more dignity for some of our marginalized residents.”
Before the project was put into place, $24.6 million worth of bottle deposit cash went unclaimed on an annual basis. Since the program was put into place this year, this amount has been cut in half. The city plans to expand this program to include 500 new trash cans featuring deposit shelves.
Expanding the number of trash cans will cost less than $200,000, and 95% of residents approve of the expansion.
One of the leaders of the project Michael Lodberg Olsen said, “We want the bottle deposits to go to the marginalized.”
A study from 2007 showed that most bottle collectors in Copenhagen are newly arrived foreigners, retirees and homeless people who are dependent upon the bottles for a source of income. Making the bottles easier to collect will certainly make their lives a little less challenging.