IMPACT
10/28/2015 10:00 am ET Updated Oct 28, 2015

Genius Garbage Can Makes It Easier For Homeless People To Collect Bottles

No one should have to sift through other people's trash.

You could always make a reasonable amount of cash collecting and recycling bottles in Copenhagen, Denmark. But now, it’s finally a dignified task too. 

Homeless people, pensioners and other marginalized groups have long looked to gathering bottles and cans from garbage cans for reimbursements as a way to make money. The only drawback was that it required sifting through mounds of detritus in order to get to the goods.

To keep people from having to get elbow deep in other people’s garbage, Michael Lodberg Olsen, a social entrepreneur who runs a program for drug addicts, developed a trash can that allows passersby to neatly leave their cans on a deposit shelf, the Local DK reported. 

Courtesy of KBHpant

So, instead of rummaging through putrid garbage, collectors can just grab bottles and cans with facility from the side of the receptacle.

The project was first launched in three locations in Copenhagen in June. The city has now expanded the program by investing 1.2 million kroner (about $177,700) to bring in 500 additional cans to the city.

Olsen told The Huffington Post that the new dignified system helps to elevate a "bottle collector" into an "environmentalist."

But even before the new garbage cans were introduced, collecting cans was notably popular across Denmark. For one, there’s a high rate of return. Customers pay between 1 and 3 DKK (between 15 and 44 cents) extra when they buy a beverage and that deposit is paid back when the bottle or can is returned. By contrast, in the U.S., deposit amounts vary between 2 and 15 cents. 

Massive media campaigns have also encouraged locals to return their bottles and government policy encourages environmental concern, a 2007 Humanity in Action study on the topic noted. 

Courtesy of KBHpant

Committed collectors will likely appreciate the ease of the new process.

Back in 2007, Clarisse, a retired kindergarten teacher who collected bottles to supplement her pension, described to Humanity in Action what her daily routine entails.

Every afternoon, she’d go to the park at 2 p.m. and collect cans and socialize with friends until 10 p.m., when the park closed. 

“If there is only one and a half bottles,” Clarisse told the researchers, “I’m happy.”

 

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