For The Record – The Binners Project

Jackson White – May 2019

The Binners’ Project, in its third year, seeks to empower the “most marginalized group in society” (The Binners’ Project)

Gabby Korcheva helped to found The Binners’ Project while still in school, not thinking where it would go. Now she, along with her two other cofounders, believe they have tapped into a plan to help the most marginalized group in society.

Binners—the more commonly used term for the group, “dumpster divers,  is increasingly considered offensive—are those who take recyclables from public trash receptacles, to return to recycling depots for the small deposits often offered.

Korcheva, alongside Director Anna Godefroy, co-founded The Binners’ Project four years ago while still in university. Their group attempts to organize, and thereby protect, binners in Vancouver, and get them a living wage.

This is despite common problems binners face. They are severely overrepresented in such demographics as homelessness, those who have been abused, and those suffering from mental illness. Despite the fact that binners have, for the most part, education levels commensurate with the general community, they have often struggled through other issues at much higher rates.

This is part of the reason Korcheva says she wants to help binners, but there’s more to it than that. Binners, she says, offer urban centres a vital service—they bridge a gap in the recycling industry that allows cities to stay clean. Often, recycled materials are placed in the wrong receptacles by those who don’t feel motivated to recycle. Binners, Korcheva argues, are the ones who make up for that failing.

But they don’t make a living wage for that work. Korcheva and the Binners Project are looking to change that.

There organization seeks to organize binners to lobby for living wages from businesses and events such as music festivals—who, she says, often benefit from binners’ services—as well as increased resources from the city.

Listen to the segment below to hear Korcheva’s take on how binners are being failed by cities, and how society can do more to support them.