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Finding Money in Copenhagen's Trash Cans

A Danish program makes bottle collecting easier—and less dangerous—for the city’s marginalized residents.
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In cities where residents can return packaging for a deposit, it’s not unusual to see bottle collectors—those who supplement their incomes by collecting and then returning drink receptacles. This is not easy work. Bottle collectors generally push their increasingly heavy daily collections from place to place, spending their entire days on their feet. They often search for bottles through packed trashcans, full of putrid garbage and sharp glass.

That’s why Copenhagen is expanding its “dignified” trash can program. Over the summer, the Danish capital installed cans with “deposit shelves” in three locations. If residents didn’t want to return their bottles for a deposit themselves, they could set them on a can’s shelf, so that those who were interested could find the bottles more easily.