News / Vancouver

'There's a need': Vancouver mulls cart-sharing idea for binners

The pilot project would involve 40 new carts designed specifically for binners’ needs and two stations, said Anna Godefroy, director of the Binners' Project.

Binners often use old shopping carts to transport bottles and cans to the recycling depot.

Susan Mendel / Binners' Project

Binners often use old shopping carts to transport bottles and cans to the recycling depot.

In a city where thousands of binners collect tens of thousands of cans and bottles a day, good quality carts are in short supply.

The Binners’ Project is asking the city for a $75,000 grant that would allow it to create a cart-sharing program – like a bike-share, but for carts. The motion is scheduled to go before city council Tuesday, as part of an update to the city’s Healthy Action Plan.

Most binners – people who return empty bottles and cans to make money from the deposit – try to find anything they can to make transporting those items to the recycling depot easier, such as discarded grocery carts or old baby strollers.

The proposed project would be similar to a public bike-share, like Vancouver’s Mobi program, said Anna Godefroy, director of the Binners’ Project.

“There’s a need. There’s no question about it,” she said.

“It’ll be made for binners which means they don’t have to find used shopping carts. It’s a big step forward for the binners – it's another way to recognize the work they do.”

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The pilot project would involve 40 new carts designed specifically for binners’ needs, said Godefroy. The organization has already conducted six consultation sessions with the community to ensure the carts will meet people's needs.

One former binner says he was happy to see the new carts would include a trailer hitch for people who want to attach them to bikes.

“Back when I did [binning] I would use a bike and a shopping cart because it would save me so much time, but it was hazardous. So having a trailer is necessary,” said Davin Boutang, now an outreach co-ordinator with The Binners’ Project.

A binner can make up to $45 per day collecting bottles and cans, and more if they have a cart to make transportation easier, he said.

Other details in the plan include a small deposit, around $5, to sign out a cart. It’s a strong incentive for users to return the cart at the end of the day, explained Boutang.

Dubbed the Universal Cart Pilot, the project would begin testing prototypes in the coming months and if all goes well, will roll out the project by the end of 2018, said Godefroy. There is no official count for the number of binners in Vancouver but Godefroy estimates there are at least 3,000 full-time binners and many more who do it part-time.

She hopes there will eventually be enough cart-shares to serve all of them and others who need an affordable way to transport goods.

One station is tentatively planned for the Downtown Eastside, where users will pick up the carts, and the other will likely be located at the United We Can recycling depot on Industrial Avenue, where users can drop off the cart.
 

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