New Surrey recycling receptacles hit ‘binners’ hard 0
Surrey resident Arne Kleiven says the city’s new recycling bins have cut into his income significantly. (NICK EAGLAND/24 HOURS)
We’re travelling to certain streets a few times a day. That’s how quickly these things fill up and there’d be garbage all around where the scavenging occurred. — Rob Costanzo, City of Surrey
For the past decade, retired Surrey roofer Arne Kleiven has been collecting cans and bottles from recycling bins every day, lucky if he’s able to collect more than $3 to supplement his small monthly pension.
At $3 per day, he said, it’s a significant $90 at the end of the month on top of the $300 he collects as regular income — money he could spend on milk, sugar and other necessary groceries.
But more frequently, the 66-year-old is being locked out of his supplementary income. In the past several years, the City of Surrey has been installing its “Big Belly” recycling and trash receptacles — which self-compact trash through a solar-powered battery — and is locked to prevent access by people called “binners.”
City deputy operations manager Rob Costanzo said about 7% of Surrey’s 625 recycling receptacles, especially in high pedestrian traffic areas, have been replaced by the new units.
“It precludes what we call scavenging from occurring,” he said. “People were going to garbage cans, they rummage through that to see if they can find materials worth value, and there was garbage laid all over the sidewalk.”
That means costs such as fuel, labour and travel time have been cut significantly, Costanzo said. What had been a problem that required multiple daily trips to clean up the discarded trash has now been reduced to one or two trips a week.
Additionally, in the past four years, only one of the new metal boxes has been broken into.
Kleiven, meanwhile, said he’s now lucky to collect $2 a day. He said there are thousands more “binners” like him and worries those too frustrated would turn to crime instead.
“They’re not scavengers, they’re human beings just like everyone else,” Kleiven said, objecting to the city’s description of his work.
“They’re stealing nickels and dimes (and) it’s getting harder and harder every day, it’s called poor bashing.”