Binners collect redeemable containers and other things from bins to sustain their livelihood through refunds received at recycling depots. By doing so, they create economic opportunities for themselves and divert considerable waste from landfills. Yet binners continue to be marginalized in our society and are exposed to a range of health hazards.
City of Vancouver, UBC Learning Exchange, SFU's Vancity Office Of Community Engagement
The Binners’ Project aims to increase the social and economic well-being of binners in Vancouver,to recognize the role binners play in society, and to include binners’ perspectives in the way the City manages its waste. The project asks binners themselves to identify new ideas for informal employment and recycling activities, and then helps them to test their ideas by working together with local government and other partners.
Seen but not heard
Prior to this project, little had been done to support binners to organise or find their voice in our communities. The result is that a group characterized by self-reliance and providing positive environmental services is overlooked or even harmed. Some binners say they feel invisible. The stigma of being a binner goes hand-in-hand with other social and economic issues that keep binners at the margins of society.
The Binners’ Project looks at our system of waste management in a completely new way, by understanding the valuable role binners play, and by involving them in planning and decision making about recycling. Instead of treating binners as a problem, the project supports meaningful engagement between binners and other groups to create a more inclusive society that recognizes the skills, ideas and abilities of the binner community.
Bringing binners into contact with other community groups and local government challenges the existing experience reported by binners that they are seen but not heard in our community, and enables binners to affect change from the bottom up.
the project supports meaningful engagement between binners and other groups to create a more inclusive society
The Binners’ Project is led by a core group of binners – making key strategic decisions on the direction of the Binners’ Project, and supported by a steering committee, special advisors and staff, and volunteers. It is a project of Tides Canada’s shared platform, providing administrative, governance, human resources, financial and grant management services.
Building a sense of trust and belonging
The Binners’ Project has been successful so far in bringing together a strong binner community through regular meetings, workshops and activities, building a sense of trust and belonging, and establishing a safe place for binners to voice their opinions and concerns.
New ideas are developing into community action projects, carried out with binners and empowering them in the process. In particular, the project is testing informal work opportunities identified by binners themselves. The work is supported by communications activities to educate the general public about binners and their role in society, and services to binners to increase their ability to participate.