CONTEXT

IN 1983, THE NEW YORK STATE PASSED THE RETURNABLE CONTAINER ACT REQUIRING A FIVE-CENT DEPOSIT ON CERTAIN BEVERAGE CONTAINERS.  REDEMPTION RATES AND CONTAINER LITTER REDUCTION AVERAGE 75 PERCENT ANNUALLY. MUCH OF THE RECOVERY OF THESE CONTAINERS IS DONE BY CANNERS, WHO ARE PEOPLE THAT COLLECT EMPTY CONTAINERS FROM BUILDINGS, RESTAURANTS AND FROM THE STREETS.

Better known as the Bottle Bill, the Act requires at least a 5-cent deposit on most beverage containers. Consumers pay the dealers the deposit for each beverage container purchased. Empty beverage containers may be returned to a dealer or redemption center to get the deposit back. Retailers and redemption centers are reimbursed the deposit plus a 3.5-cent handling fee by the distributor for each empty beverage container returned. Since the Act went into effect, redemption rates and container litter reduction average 75 percent annually.

However, many consumers don’t recover the refundable deposit. There are people who walk through streets every day to collect cans and bottles that were thrown away. In New York City, there are more than 5,000 “canners” who contribute significantly to recycling. The real challenge is ensuring canners decent work, fair exchange, job growth opportunities, and above all, a welcoming place to where they can redeem cans and bottles, feel supported, and be active participants in a vital community.

Co-Founders Ana De Luco and Eugene Gadsden

Co-Founders Ana De Luco and Eugene Gadsden

HISTORY

SWC WAS FOUNDED IN 2007 TO PROVIDE CANNERS -PEOPLE WHO COLLECT CANS AND BOTTLES FROM THE STREETS- A WELCOMING PLACE TO REDEEM AND CONNECT WITH OTHERS ENGAGED IN THE SAME ENDEAVOR. SWC IS THE ONLY NON-PROFIT HOMELESS-FRIENDLY REDEMPTION CENTER IN NYC.

Many canners face economic, emotional, educational and language barriers that limit their possibilities for full participation in society. SWC was founded by canners for canners. A group led by Ana de Luco and Eugene Gadsden, started SWC to improve their working and living conditions, and address the hardships of those who make a living by collecting and redeeming discarded cans and bottles.

SWC has grown each year, and in 2015 processed approximately 10 million cans and bottles for redemption. Today, SWC’s more than 400 canners have a place to store, organize, and exchange what they have collected. In addition, through educational activities and programs for schools and universities, SWC is promoting sustainability, recycling and composting. 

 

KEY ACCOMPLISHMENTS

SWC HAS EXPERIENCED CONSISTENT GROWTH OVER THE PAST NINE YEARS, LEADING TO A NUMBER OF NOTABLE MILESTONES AND RECOGNITION OF OUR CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE COMMUNITY AND ENVIRONMENT.

Key milestones:

  • More than 400 canners are part of our community
  • Recovered 10 million cans and bottles in 2015
  • Distributed more than $500,000 among the community of canners in 2015
  • Settled in an ideal location in Brooklyn with 12,000 sq ft
  • Expanded and diversified activities: compost, community garden, educational visits, talks
  • Diversion of 50 tons of organic waste from the landfill every year

Awards and media coverage: