2010 Flashback: Bottle, container collectors feasting on Olympic boom

Molson Hockey House donates thousands of containers to East Hastings depot

With the 10th anniversary of Vancouver hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics upon us, we are looking back at some of the stories that were making the news in the Courier during those 17 days in February.

This story was originally published Feb. 26, 2010

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Bottle depots and binners in the city have seen a huge spike in business since the 2010 Winter Games began Feb. 12.

United We Can depot on East Hastings can hardly keep up with the volume of bottles, cans and containers binners are dumping at the facility.

“It’s absolutely crazy,” said Brian Dodd, executive director of the depot, as he sorted through a bin of recyclables in the alley Tuesday. “Normally some binners are doing 20 bucks a day, some are doing 50 bucks a day. Those folks are now doing a hundred bucks a day or a 150 bucks a day.”

The reason for the spike is simple: People are drinking alcohol and partying at a rate Dodd and others in the depot industry have never seen.

Binner Rick Dow, who also works at United We Can, said on a good day before the Olympics he would collect $15 worth of bottles in four hours.

“This past Friday night I was out for a few hours and brought in 40 bucks,” he said over the din of crashing bottles in the alley behind the depot. “Went back out for about an hour and 20 minutes, ran into six young fellas in the back of a pickup on Granville and they filled my cart — bang, another 40 bucks just like that.”

United We Can is also benefiting from the numerous recycling bags the city set up around town for containers during the Games. The bags are part of a program with the depot in which binners are paid minimum wage with a city grant to collect recyclables.

From the first Saturday of the Games to last Saturday, binners collected 40,000 containers from those bags. Then there’s the thousands of containers Molson Hockey House donates to the depot and the rounds depot staff make to bars and restaurants in a large truck. Irish House and bars along the Granville Street strip have also been generous, said Dow, a former homeless person.

“It’s been good for all binners,” he said, adding that downtown has attracted binners from all parts of the city. “It doesn’t matter because there’s tons of bottles and cans out there.”

Dodd noted the good vibe in the city because of the Games and likened the mood to a “love fest” for binners. But he said the Olympics for binners is not solely about making money.

“The people in the Downtown Eastside are just as in to the whole spectacle of the Games as anybody else in Vancouver,” he said, noting the city installed a television in the depot. “They want to keep up on the scores, they want to see that winning ski jump. It’s just very cool that we can show it here in the depot.”

At Go Green Bottle Depot at Ontario and Seventh streets, owner Anthony Ryder estimated his business was up 30 per cent.

“This is usually the slow time of the year,” said Ryder. “I’ve had to get one of my staff in here at six in the morning to let customers drop off their stuff.”

Dave Carson was unloading his truck of containers at Go Green on a Tuesday morning in which he had already made $500.

“Business is up probably 100 per cent for me,” said Carson, who operates a small recycling business that includes unloading bins of cardboard and mixed paper from downtown apartments.

Carson said the extra money he earns from bottle collections is being deposited into bank accounts for his twin 13-year-old girls’ futures.

“I’ve got enough work as it is. This is just to set my kids up.”

mhowell@vancourier.com

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