The Binners’ Project
The Binners’ Project is a group of binners dedicated to improving their economic opportunities and reducing the stigma they face as informal recycling collectors. Binners take part in informal recycling by removing items of value from the waste stream to support their livelihoods. They are industrious individuals with diverse ages, education levels, physical abilities, and previous work experience. Yet all are entrenched in poverty and impacted by housing insecurity and political invisibility. The Binners’ Project aims to gain recognition for binners’ civic contributions, reduce the stigma they face as one of the city’s most marginalized populations, and use their skills to improve their economic opportunities.
Some of the flagship social enterprise initiatives of the Binners’ Project include:
Binner Events: Binners are contracted to provide services at community events, such as monitoring bins, educating the public about proper recycling, sorting recyclables, and picking up refundables from the venue.
Pick Up Service: In this free initiative, binners remove refundable containers from businesses’ recycling or waste streams. Since the program’s start, the service has helped to break down barriers between binners and the formal economy sector.
The Binners’ Hook: Developed by binners for single family homes, these hooks are sold through the program for $10. These pest deterrent hooks provide a space for community members to safely leave their recyclables for binners to pick up.
Sorting Service: Businesses and multi-unit residences can now contract the Binners’ Project to help keep recycling rooms clean and orderly, and recyclable material out of the waste stream. The sorting service benefits property managers, waste haulers, binners, and the environment.
LEDlab worked with the Binners’ Project for two consecutive years. In 2015/16, LEDlab helped validate and bring their social enterprise initiatives to fruition. In particular, LEDlab Project Coordinator Priyanka Roy Chakrabarti worked to strengthen the Binners’ Events program and helped launch the Binners’ Hook and Pick-up Service. In 2016/17 LEDlab Project Coordinator Brandon Toews focused on scaling up the Binners’ Hook and Pick-up Service, prototyped a new Sorting Service, and increased organizational capacity through training binner members in staff roles.