Glass, Metal, Plastic: The Story of New York’s Canners

Glass, Metal, Plastic: The Story of New York’s Canners takes a look at marginalized New Yorkers whose work is often under-appreciated but critically important for the community. The doc explores a day in the life of two canners—Pierre Simmons and ‘Chicago’ (Beverly) Crosby—who redeem deposits from used bottles and cans to support themselves in rapidly-gentrifying Brooklyn.

Pierre and Chicago are members of Sure We Can, a unique recycling center in Brooklyn that enables locals to redeem deposits on bottles and cans. New York City alone has over eight thousand people who earn a living by collecting discarded cans and bottles. The founder of Sure We Can, Sister Ana Martinez de Luco, calls it ‘a coop by canners, for canners.’

The documentary coincides with a call to action to modernize New York’s bottle bill, and in doing so, to drastically reduce plastic pollution and to offer a lifeline to low-income canners. New York’s ‘bottle bill’, enacted in 1982, adds a 5-cent deposit to certain beverages to incentivize recycling. Today—nearly four decades later—the bill is desperately out of date. The deposit value is still the same it was in 1982, and the beverage types covered under the system barely reflect what people buy in supermarkets today.

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