I can only imagine how much rubbish we would produce if they did not exist. Personally, those people are my heroes in a world in which still only a minority of people recycles glass, paper, plastic ect.
Refund systems for bottles and glass containers like we can find it in Germany are very encouraging for the job of the freestyle recycler. People sometimes even hand their bottles over directly to the collectors. They can feel good twice: for reycling and for giving someone a “job”.
A bottle bill is definitely a good idea. Bottlebill.org says that “bottle bills (also known as container deposit laws) are a proven, sustainable method of capturing beverage bottles and cans for recycling.” Nevertheless, they only count 20 countries who actually have this kind of policy. Not all places are like Germany – yet.
To come back to the recycle-heroes: The documentary Wasteland gives tribute to the recyclers of the world’s biggest garbage dump, in Rio de Janeiro. The story is beautiful and heart-warming. It shows us that those people are just like you and me. But still they are doing work which goes far beyond what a human being should be doing every day, I believe.