After 21 years on the streets of Manhattan, Eugene Gadsen knows everything there is to know about collecting cans and bottles. He knows which recyclables can be redeemed, which buildings have friendly supers, and which events yield the most cast-offs (Gay Pride is a doozy, he says). And he knows which supermarkets are willing to cash them in.
Despite a state law requiring any store that sells beer or soda to accept a maximum of 240 cans or bottles per person per day, many simply refuse, setting arbitrary limits of 100 or 40 per person instead. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has fielded 460 complaints about violations of the law in New York City since January.
For those, like Gadsen, who rely on the meager deposits for survival, redemption limits can mean one less meal. “It’s not right,” he said, eyes yellow and watery. “Just because they’re a big chain, they think they’re above the law.”
Gadsen and other canners took their frustrations to the street on Wednesday at a protest organized by the nonprofit Picture the Homeless outside an Associated supermarket at 2nd