Disappearing pop cans are becoming a concern for the University of Calgary Campus Recycling Board.
According to Campus Security, while homeless people are responsible for the majority of the thefts, external students, staff and the working poor have been caught as well. The CRB depends on the cans for a large portion of their budget. Any recyclable containers inside the designated bins are property of the CRB.
"A large proportion of this budget is used to pay for supplies as well as wages of the mentally-challenged collectors, and some of this budget is used for student initiated environmental projects," said Lisa Willott, CRB board member and Students' Union Operations and Finance Commissioner. "Taking from these bins not only hurts students but also those employed in helping clean up after students."
Staff at the Vocational and Re- habilitation Research Institute bottle depot suspect individuals who steal recyclables from the U of C come to VRRI to collect the deposits.
"The trouble is they use black bags and, as 75 per cent of public containers use black bags, we can't identify U of C bottles," said Jim Goroniuk, VRRI Bottle Depot Assistant Manager. "It's an educated guess when they are bringing four carts at a time. It's hard to prove unless they are caught in the act."
Goroniuk suggests stricter security measures, an idea Campus Security echoes.
"They should try to secure the property," said Campus Security Manager Lanny Fritz. "They should be looking for a device to prevent future thefts. They can't expect security to catch them all the time."
Willott empathizes with the low income individuals who feel that taking from the CRB bins is necessary and feels it reflects the current governments' lack of attention to poverty and low-income issues.
Calgary Drop-In Centre Director of Programs Debbie Newman said it is a big assumption to assume homeless people are stealing the recyclables. According to Fritz, Campus Security does ask offenders where they live and some say they do not have a home.
"If people are taking the bottles and they are from whatever walk of life, they need the money," said Newman. "They do not have enough income and need to subsidize their income. There are a number of factors why they do that."
If anyone spots a theft in progress, contact Campus Security instead of confronting the offender.