Homeless in Vancouver: United We Can bottle depot has finally moved

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      Vancouver, B.C.’s pioneer Return-It bottle depot, United We Can (UWC), has finally moved.

      As of May 5, it has vacated its longtime location at 39 East Hastings Street in the Downtown Eastside and is in full operation on 449 Industrial Avenue, which is about two kilometres from the old location.

      According to Google Maps, the two locations are about five minutes apart if you’re driving, 17 minutes by bus, and 23 minutes on foot.

      I haven’t cashed in bottles at the new location but early comments from other binners have been typically chippy (binners aren’t keen on change the way panhandlers are).

      For instance, the ramp to the entrance is apparently pretty steep for a fully loaded shopping cart, particularly if there’s a lineup and you have to stop and wait on the incline.

      So far I haven’t heard a single complaint about the extra travel time.

      The new location reportedly gives UWC over four time the area of its old location, allowing them to accommodate as many as 50 customers at a time.

      The property at 449 Industrial Avenue is owned by the City of Vancouver and the city has given UWC a very favourable 10-year lease arrangement.

      UWC even has the private sector helping to pay for the building. The bottle depot will take up 21,000 square feet of the space while two private sector tenants—Recycling Alternative and Busters Towing— will occupy the remaining area and pay market rental rates.

      In the new location, the non-profit UWC is partnering with Recycling Alternative to provide what the City of Vancouver is pleased to call a “green recycling hub”.

      With the sheer size of the facility and the combined expertise of the partners, the Industrial Avenue location is expected to become a true one-stop drop-off point for all recyclables. UWC should now have the room to accept materials for recycling on behalf of all of B.C.’s various ERPs (Extended Responsibility Programs), such as electronics, power tools, paint, light bulbs, flammables, batteries and so on.

      There are now no bottle depots in the city’s core west of Main Street. And the new UWC location is located no more than a kilometre from two long-established Return-it bottle depots, Regional Recycling and Go Green.

      I’m told that Regional’s Vancouver location, in addition to opening at 7 a.m. and having coffee waiting for early birds, is now helping out their customers who ride in on bicycles by helping out with flat tire repairs.

      Go Green has already moved to having two electronic counting points, which has notably sped up throughput, and they have also mounted a large replica fish on the wall behind their main counter—a really large fish.

      I don’t think a binner fished this out of a container bin!

      Stanley Q. Woodvine is a homeless resident of Vancouver who has worked in the past as an illustrator, graphic designer, and writer.


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      May 13, 2014 at 10:21am

      "...not keen on change..."


      Keep on, Homeless In Vancouver, what a great series.

      Good news about the one stop drop off, I have had paint sitting around forever that the recycler on Main refuses to take.

      Stanley Q Woodvine

      May 13, 2014 at 3:48pm

      Both Go Green at 7th and Ontario and Regional Recycling on Evans take labelled paint.