The crowds that lineup outside United We Can’s bottle depot location in the Downtown Eastside have disappeared as the non-profit has moved to a new, larger location 2 kilometres south at the False Creek Flats.
The move to the City of Vancouver-owned building at 449 Industrial Avenue was approved last year to make way for a new 14-storey, 169-unit mixed-use social and market housing development at the depot’s old location at 39 East Hastings near Carrall Street.
United We Can will join Recycling Alternative, an established materials-recycling firm, to create Vancouver’s new ‘Green Recycling Hub’. Recycling Alternative will provide United We Can with private sector expertise that will complement the business model of United We Can. Busters Towing’s offices and facilities are also located on the 33,743-square-foot lot.
City Council unanimously approved a plan to provide United We Can with a 10-year lease with a discounted rental subsidy of $1.3 million for the duration of the lease term. The bottle depot will take up 21,160 square feet of the space, while Recycling Alternative and Busters Towing will occupy the remaining area and pay market rental rates.
The new space for United We Can is nearly four times larger than its previous home in the Downtown Eastside and will allow the non-profit to expand its operations. As many as people 50 people can be accommodated inside the building, well beyond the capacity of the East Hastings site which often experienced long lineups and large crowds outside its doors.
It employs 120 people and is visited by 700 recyclers and binners daily. Grocery stores typically have rules that prevent individuals from bringing in large garbage bags with hundreds of recyclable containers amounting to large deposit payouts; most grocery stores only allow 12 or 24 recyclable containers to be returned for deposit fees at any one time. The bottle depot provides impoverished binners with a one-stop source of extra income.
Featured Image: Pop cans recycling via Shutterstock